I remember the Easter I decided I was done with passion plays. I had just returned from the goriest drama ever.
As “Jesus” made his way down the aisle of the large church, the soldiers followed, their whips cracking and tearing open the “flesh” of “Jesus.”
The strategically placed bags of “blood” on his body were ripped open, as he stumbled forward and “blood” sprayed over those of us near the aisle.
As I was moved to feel what it might have been like to be in the crowd at Jesus’ crucifixion, I looked around at the audience.
I was baffled to discover there were people who seemed to be day dreaming, totally untouched by the horrific scene being played out before them.
Even worse, some were laughing.
Some yelled out to the soldiers to hit him harder. They were not a part of the play. They were genuinely entertained by the portrayed suffering of Jesus.
Suffering has always bothered me. The desire to stop the suffering of others led me to become a nurse. My inability to stop suffering almost drove me out of nursing.
I watched countless nurses and doctors, who did not leave their helping professions, but instead developed an immunity to suffering. They were able to do the job on some level, but from a distance.
How does suffering affect us? Have we developed the same immunity? Have we removed ourselves from its sting?
Have we heard so many reports of violence on the news that it no longer affects us? Is our only response to shake our heads and comment on what a mess the world is in?
Even worse, are we entertained by the suffering of others? How many movies or tv shows are we watching where the whole plot line centers around the torturing or killing of others?
Are we entertained by the Easter Story or motivated by it?
What did Jesus mean when He said,
“Whoever wants to be My Disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.”
If we take up the cross and follow Jesus, where are we going? We are going where Jesus goes. We are going to The Way of Suffering. We are going to share in the suffering of all those around us.
Jesus allowed suffering to interrupt His Life daily. He saw. He heard. He touched. He allowed Himself to be touched.
No one was too dirty. No one was too diseased, too contagious. No one was too crazy. No one was too sinful. He loved them all and healed them all.
He sees you. He hears you. He cares about everything you are experiencing right now.
We cannot escape the cross. There will be hard and heavy things to bear. But Jesus is here with us to carry the load.
Our response to our own suffering is a testimony to all those around us. It is the measure of our faith in The One we profess in good times.
Others are watching how well He carries the load and how much we trust Him to carry it.
And then we need to turn and see the suffering of those around us. We need to give them the comfort with which we have been blessed.
“Praise be to The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
“For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
As you reflect on the way of suffering, I invite you to listen to this timeless song by Sandi Patti. Here is the link.