Suffering

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 “The difference is not in what people suffer; but in the way they suffer.  In the same fire, gold glows and straw smokes.” St. Augustine

I’ve reluctantly come to accept that suffering is part of the deal (not that I have suffered much compared to the next guy).  It seems to be a key ingredient in the process of redemption.  I think I’ve managed to ignore this fact for most of my life, as if I could be exempt.  I have been secretly searching for a hidden road that gets me to my destination unscathed.  The truth is not hidden.  It is stated plainly.

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33b

In spite of our frantic efforts to avoid it, we have trouble.  What are we supposed to do with that?  I’d like to opt out of the trouble.  Is that an option?  I think I’m missing something here.  Listen to the apostle Paul.

“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” – Philippians 3:10

I think when you really live, out of your heart, you are vulnerable.  When you really love, you are at risk.  That’s what it means to become like Jesus in his death.  You lean into life.  You don’t hold anything back.  You stop looking for a shortcut or a way to save your own precious life.  You begin to really believe.  You walk that same road that Jesus walked.  You burn in those fiery ordeals… and you begin to come to life.  You begin to glow.  

“rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ” 1 Peter 4:13

Rejoice!