“Share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:3
When I think of suffering, I think of things like grave illnesses, the loss of a loved one, natural disasters, hunger, and poverty. As a result, I have never thought much about suffering as applying to me. I have been very blessed in that I have not endured any grave illnesses, I have not lost any of my dear family members, have not faced any extreme natural disasters. I have fresh water, food, and shelter. I have a wonderful family and a terrific husband and both of us are blessed to have jobs. We may not be the wealthiest around but we certainly are doing just fine.
So what has suffering got to do with me? I know that I am called to lift my suffering up to the Lord, to endure it for His sake…but am I really suffering? I look at others who endure such trials and can’t bring myself to think that my life and all its blessings could contain suffering compared to those who lack so much.
All too often I am preoccupied with comparing my blessings and trials with those around me. I feel almost ashamed to think of the trials I face as anything of consequence. I keep them to myself, gloss over them, move along. The trouble is that in keeping them to myself, I brood upon them and hide them within me. I bury my fears, my pain, and the troubles I face, thinking they are too trivial to be sufferings. And in doing so, I am certainly not offering them up to the Lord. By hiding them and letting myself dwell upon the difficulties I face, I am in fact doing the exact opposite of what Christ has called us to do!
“Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'” Luke 9:23
We all have daily crosses to bear. It does not matter how small or large our cross may be. We will not all carry the same cross. We will not all endure the same pain, the same sorrow, the same fears. But God doesn’t care how small we might think our troubles are. He invites us to take up our daily problems, the big and the small, and to lay them down at His feet. To go to Him in times of suffering, no matter how trivial we may perceive it.
The past year has been a very blessed one, but has also been a very difficult one for me. As we have been praying and hoping for God to bless us with a baby, I have learned to lift up all my troubles to the Lord. In times when I felt sorrow, despair, or the fear of not knowing what lies ahead, I have learned to accept this tiny bit of suffering and take it to God. As difficult as it has been at times, I feel that I have grown so much stronger in my faith. My daily prayer life has grown deeper. The pain is still there, but instead of ignoring it and passing it off as something silly, I instead acknowledge that this period of trial is my cross to bear. And so I bear it daily, as Christ has called us to do. It may not be what I have typically thought of as suffering, but nothing is ever too small to hand over to the Lord. I share my small sufferings with Him and offer them up for His sake.
Jesus suffered so much for us, the very least I can do is to offer my tiny bit of suffering back up to Him with patience and faith that He knows my pain and is standing beside me all the while. He hears my prayers, He knows my heart, He answers me when I call out to Him. I only need to listen, believe, and pray. To take up my daily cross, and follow my Lord.