We are just four Sunday’s away from Easter and if you know me well, you know that this is my favorite season of the year. In the last few days, I have thought about how Jesus willingly walked through suffering. Whether it was rejection, abandonment, ridicule, misunderstanding or having close friends leave due to unbelief; he remained resolute in his purpose. He had such a sense of identity that nothing the world threw at him was strong enough to shake him. He was the Son of God, came to represent the Father, had a clear objective from his Father for his earthly life, and was willing to give up his own will so that God’s will would be done. He had a Kingdom identity. That focus seemed to have shaped his view of suffering.
I have a point of view about suffering: it should never happen! Life should go my way, especially if I do all the right things as best I can. Doesn’t God promise that? I follow him and he blesses me, right? And, by the way, all blessings are what I want!
To live by that point of view would be like Peter when he rebuked Jesus for predicting what was about to happen to him in Jerusalem. It’s not of God. In order to follow Jesus’ model of suffering, the point of view has to be changed to a viewing point – a Kingdom viewing point. Points of view are usually our own narrow angles or opinions of what’s happening. Viewing points are climbing to higher elevation where we can see the whole picture played out. Jesus had a Kingdom viewing point so that he counsels his disciples:
I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (John 16:20-22)
Join me this season to reassess life’s struggles through the lenses of Kingdom viewing points. It’s the only way to turn pain into joy – a joy that no one can take from you. Talk about it with your spouse, your children and your friends. Let’s celebrate life.