Suffering and the Road to Joy

Here are some challenging words from Ann Voscamp: “A life that wants to embrace Christ is a life that must embrace suffering.” Who wants to embrace suffering? Personally, I want to run from it with all the speed these legs can muster.

But, I want Christ. I want a life defined by Christ. I want to know Him not just with my head but with my heart. I want to be given over to Him in every way. That means I must embrace suffering.

Yesterday, I was blessed to have lunch with my college Shakespeare professor. As we discussed the study of literature and the changes in that study through the years, she made an interesting observation. Many professors and students miss the value of the literature now days — the suffering and the pain as well as the joy and redemption. People get so caught up in their personal agendas that they miss feeling the very things the author wanted them to feel. Do agendas harden our hearts?

What would it look like for us to honestly walk into the suffering that surrounds us? The suffering in a book, in our children’s school, in our church, at the neighborhood Starbucks. There is suffering everywhere. There is also joy. In fact, I don’t think we can truly embrace the gift of joy without also embracing the gift of pain.

The human experience is one of pain and disappointment. It is hard to live in those feelings. Yet, we learn resilience and hope. We learn that pain will not kill us nor can it define us. In fact, the overcoming of pain is the road to joy.

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