"For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly...For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps." (1 Peter 2:19,21 ESV)
"And he said to all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23 ESV)
One of the most difficult things one can do is follow one's vocation. Being a follower of Jesus can be anything but attracting or appealing to our fleshly senses.
The first Scripture, taken from 1 Peter, tells us that not only are we to endure suffering unjustly, but goes one step further and tells us that we are called to endure suffering unjustly.
The Greek word used here for "called" is the same one that Jesus used to call His disciples to follow Him.
"God doesn't want anyone to suffer" many people tell me, as my road with God can get difficult and painful. Maybe it is the case that He doesn't desire anyone to suffer, but He does calls us to follow Jesus' example of suffering.
Don't believe the prosperity gospel that is constantly preached in the media. Follow Jesus and everything will be better. All your questions will be answered. Everything will be bright and beautiful.
As the second Scripture tells us, if we wish to follow Jesus, we need to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily and follow Him.
Cross, as understood in a first century context, is a symbol of death. The disciples understood clearly what Jesus meant when He talked about taking up a cross.
A cross was not a romantic or religious symbol. It was an instrument of torture and death.
God doesn't promise us that we are going to be happy. He doesn't even promise a happy ending in this life.
But He promises His Peace and Joy.
" Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice" (Phillippians 4:4 ESV).
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18 ESV).
Photo Credit: Baron Brian.