Everyone suffers. We are invited to sacrifice.
When we add the layer of active service to others in the name of Jesus, then we must add the reality that we will experience pains in the act of that service.
Somehow we have an idealism that thinks that if we do what God asks us to do, then it will go well for us. That was not the case of Jesus nor the Apostles. They all were in some manner misunderstood and mistreated by the very ones they were seeking to help.
We will too.
“In this world you will have many troubles,” Jesus said plaining in John 16:33.
That is an iron-clad guarantee.
Expectations and Willingness
It is wise to prepare ourselves for that which Jesus has sought to prepare us for. We will experience all sorts of hurts in the act of serving others.
Expectations can be helpful here. Hurts will still hurt. But maybe there will be less of a whiplash effect when it happens. And maybe the gap between what we have experienced and our responding well to it can be shortened.
It is well documented that a theology of risk and suffering personally applied to one’s life increases resiliency and in turn retention. Have you wrestled through these topics for your own personal life and public ministry?
How have you appropriated the truth that you will suffer in this fallen world? That your friends, spouse, children, and teammates will too?
Are you willing to sacrifice, even suffer, as you care for others?
Are you willing to suffer at the hands of the ones you are caring for?
These questions invite a lingering, praying attention. Idealism and naiveté will let us down.
The goal in life is not to remove tensions and pain. That is impossible. The opportunity is to walk well with God, others, and self amidst those tensions. God invites us to a noble life of trusting him in self-sacrificing service to others for Jesus.
I submit a brief story of how I was confronted with this recently.
A Faith Challenge
My wife and I just returned home from a 5 week road trip. Leading up to that road trip I had been leaning in heavy on some writing projects (on suffering no less). The more I pressed into these projects the more we were experiencing personal backlash physically, emotional and spiritually. As the departure for the trip drew closer, I found myself wondering if we should just cancel. The physical limitations I live with were really flaring. I did not feel well at all. The thought of lengthy international travel was not appealing. Its not a friendly world out there. I really wanted to just stay in my hobbit hole where it is warm, quiet and predictable.
Within me, however, I was aware of a very quiet yet firm invitation to faith. God was inviting me to once again trust him. Would I go? Would I be willing to serve whomever he brought my way no matter how poorly I felt? Would I be willing to risk it and venture out of this “safe” hobbit hole once again? Would I trust him for daily provision?
We went. We both felt crummy at times. He provided daily.
Each of us will need to discern what God is inviting us to, where he is inviting us to lay our lives down, and how we can rely upon him as we do so.