Mark 8:34-37 – Calling the crowd to join his disciples, [Jesus] said, "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You are not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?"
Do you recognize those words? What is more important, do you recognize the truth they bring? They come from The Message – The New Testament in Contemporary English (like you've never read it before.) by Eugene H. Peterson.
Personally his slight turn of phrase has triggered a sweep of new life and meaning for me. I was in the mist of a bout with cancer; sharp back pains, numb legs and feet. I was crying desperately for relief. I was running for my life from the agony of moments, and constant discomfort. I was trying to heal myself, to save my life, when real relief arrived in the form of an amazing peace from God.
Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I will show you how. And he did! An incredible invasion of divine life flooded my soul. In a way, it was nothing spectacular, but a pressing in and a coming together, in a very real and lively way, of what Jesus Christ can do in a human life when he gets a chance, without any holding back on our part. At that moment I quit running, embraced the suffering, hugged the hurting, and fear left, peace settled in. A more real believer is being formed. A life is finding itself. A soul is being saved.
As I write, I am aware of the pain and suffering happening within our Presbyterian Church, related to PCCWeb with its important relation to Daily. What is happening in one believer's body can happen with equal effectiveness in the whole body of believers. The way is clear. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I will show you how.
Prayer: Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth, maker of all things visible and invisible, in your great mercy come and rescue us in the midst of our pains and dilemmas. Through you Son, Jesus our Lord, we ask you to show us how to embrace our suffering and what to do in the midst of our hopes and our fears; our failures and successes. Put your arms around us and hold us close until we know what to do. In his holy name we pray. Amen.