Nearly three years a go, I was here for Francis Chan’s talk about finding joy in suffering. I stumbled upon it today, and it resonated much more boldly. As the reality of facing cancer begins to weigh on my heart, I found great encouragement in sitting back and watching this 50 minute video.
In an era of a church that has hurt so many people, a church that has often strayed away from the simple command to love God and love others, a church that has brought so much pain to those I love dearly– I wish I could apologize face-to-face to each of you, as a Christian, for the pain Christians may have brought you at some point in your life. I struggle with the lack of sensitivity and focus on the Gospel and the person of Jesus in many of our churches today. If each of us truly focused our eyes on Jesus Christ, his words and his actions–how he loves so desperately every person, even those who persecute him–how much different would the church look? Now, many churches articulate this kind of action, but when it comes to actually living out a life that resembles Christ, that’s where you lose people. (At the same time, I am not discounting so many people who are faithfully seeking to follow Christ’s example and are making disciples to do the same…unfortunately, I think the former overrides the latter most of the time.)
When you spend time with Jesus, alone with Jesus, in prayer with Jesus, it is impossible to approach others with anything less than love and compassion. He molds your heart to be more like his. However, even the Scriptures show that those closest to Jesus–those who sought him most genuinely–suffered like him, as well. Still, in every case, it was throughout that suffering that these individuals felt Christ most closely. It was during these moments that the reality of the Holy Spirit became much more apparent.
Jesus is the ultimate comforter, and if life is always comfortable and moving smoothly, why would we ever seek Him? Why would we seek His comfort if we are fine on our own?
In this video, Francis Chan puts it simply:
“I’m not one who wants pain, but I’m one who wants Jesus.”
I resonated with that statement so strongly. I do not want to be going through cancer right now, especially at the start of my law school career, but I do want Jesus. I want to know Him, I want Him to be beside me during all of this, and I want to feel His comfort in a way I have never before. I want my heart to grow closer to His, to become more passionate, to love more deeply and to care about others more intimately.
I empathize and can say that I am adopting apostle Paul’s attitude right now and cannot wait to see how this suffering brings me closer to Jesus:
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christand be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-10