Philippians 1:29: “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.”

Do you think a life free from trouble brings us happiness? I am not so sure about that. There is a German idiom that actually makes fun of the desire to live in a world without problems: “Friede, Freude, Eierkuchen!” which loosely translated means: “Everything’s just hunky-dory!”

God’s peace comes to full fruition in times of trouble, which is why it is known to surpass all understanding. I believe problems ultimately are our friends. Vexing issues and even heart-wrenching suffering are an unwanted, but essential part of life. Suffering shapes us, especially when we include Jesus into the equation.

Jesus suffered like a champion. He was not defensive or lashed back at those who made Him suffer, and yet He was no doormat either. He was the King in chains. Pilate took note of that when he saw Jesus in his interrogation room (Luke 23:3):

“So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied.”

Jesus took the bull by the horns and fully cooperated when He was apprehended by the Roman authorities. He knew what would happen, and He was prepared. So instead of being preoccupied with resisting His arrest and speaking up for himself, His mind was free to look around and notice someone else’s need. He continued to make life better for the people around Him until He drew His last breath. Here is a list of things He did while on trial and even while dying on the cross:

* He healed someone’s ear (Luke 22:49-51);

* He made arrangements for His mother’s continued care (John 19:25-27);

* He consoled the person crucified next to Him (Luke 23:42-43);

Trying to make sense of a bad situation, we may throw a pity party, or even get angry. All these kinds of reactions are understandable, but they are a waste of our time and energy. Jesus inspires us to take a different approach.

Suffering turns into a blessing when it becomes a community outreach. The 2020 outbreak of a virus that wreaked havoc on every continent of this planet is a recent example. It is ironic that social distancing and quarantine brings people together, but it does. We suffer together, and together we fight the disease. On the other side of this nightmare we find that a vicious virus has forged a world community that we forgot we had all along.

“What if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise”    Laura Story

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