February 28, 2018

Did I Sign up for Suffering?

Luke 18:31-34

The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.

—  Luke 18:34

Psychologists and counselors point out that people who come to see them usually begin a conversation by telling selective parts of their stories, sharing only what they want to tell. This is a form of self-protection. People need emotional mechanisms to hide their wounds from others who might upset their status quo.

It seems the disciples chose to protect themselves from Jesus. They were excited about following Jesus, but they shielded themselves from his talk of suffering and hardship. They wished he would only tell them what they would gain from placing their faith in him.

They put blinders on when he detoured them away from earthly glory to the glory of suffering. But he wanted them to get the full brunt of his vision of the kingdom. Jesus said the Gentiles would grab him. But why would he allow the very people they hated to harm him? This was part of Jesus’ main purpose. The Son of Man did not come to conquer the world through war; he willingly became a sacrifice to make salvation possible for the very people who hated him—along with all other sinners.

Jesus asked his followers to come and die with him. As we walk the road of Lent, looking ahead to Good Friday, are we willing to take up our cross and follow him?

Lord, I know that pain and suffering cannot be avoided in this life. Guide me to follow you faithfully, knowing that your resurrection power will overcome for good. Amen.

About the author — Reginald Smith

Dr. Reginald Smith is senior pastor at Roosevelt Park Community Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has served for seventeen years. He has also served as a pastor in Paterson, New Jersey. He and his wife, Sharon, have three daughters, Janelle, Katrina, and Mariah.

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