This post on Choosing to Suffer was written by Jeffrey Chen, who is pursuing a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary. Jeffrey has a passion for sharing God’s love with those around him. He blogs at The Wayvy Life.
Suffering is a part of life. However, we typically try to avoid it if possible. Nobody enjoys suffering. It can be extremely painful, unbearable, gut-wrenching, and is simply never a pleasant experience. If we could choose to never suffer again, I’m sure almost all of us would. Yet, that is just not how life works sometimes.
Jesus himself knows this better than anybody else. Before he was crucified, he prayed to God, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus was aware of the immense suffering he was about to face. He knew he was going to be whipped, flogged, and crucified in an excruciatingly painful manner. He knew he would take on the burden of all sin in the world and be separated from God for a moment when he made this sacrifice, and that this would be more painful than one could ever imagine. The human side of him did not want to face this suffering. In fact, Jesus was so anxious as he prepared for his death that “His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (The sweating of blood is actually a real medical condition called hematidrosis caused by extreme fear and stress.)
Yet, despite being afraid of suffering, Jesus willingly died on the cross. He went through the ultimate suffering for the sake of forgiving the sins of the world and all its people. He did not want to do it, but did it anyway because He knew it was worth it. He knew that in order to bring hope and salvation to billions of people, He had to go through with God’s will and sacrifice his own life and well-being. It was the hardest experience Jesus ever had to go through and the hardest anybody on Earth ever will have to go through, but it was also the best thing that has ever happened in the history of the world.
While we often try to avoid suffering, sometimes we actually choose to suffer because we know it will be worth it. We suffer through exercise to build strength and endurance. We suffer through surgery to repair our bodies. We suffer through childbirth to give life to a beautiful human being. We suffer through a job we don’t enjoy so that we can provide for our family. And it is hard. Really hard. But, at the end of the day, we’ll look back and know that it was well worth the pain and sacrifice we went through.
What suffering are you facing right now? What suffering are you avoiding? While there is no reason to seek suffering for the sake of suffering, I encourage you not to run away from suffering that you know will ultimately benefit yourself or others. It is an extremely scary thing to do – taking suffering head on – and it doesn’t get any easier when you take that step and are in the midst of the fire. But just know in your heart that you will make it out one day, and you will make it out stronger than you have ever been, for the betterment of yourself and potentially many many others.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me for feedback, questions, or anything else. I’m happy to chat about anything and everything. I hope you could take away something helpful from this post. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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