Suffering comes in many shapes and sizes. You can suffer from a cold or cancer; from a trial or a tragedy; from the loss of a friendship to the loss of a friend. Suffering can last for a few moments or months or years. If you are normal, you will try to avoid suffering at any cost. A large majority of television commercials are geared to the elimination or the avoidance of pain.
Let’s face it, we do not like to be uncomfortable. The reason most of us do not exercise as we should is that it is unpleasant [suffering]. The reason we do not eat the proper foods is we do not want to deprive [suffer] ourselves from those foods we crave. But the reality is life, to some degree, is suffering is a part of life.
Sometimes suffering is the result of the trials of life or the challenges that come from following Christ. Suffering is inevitable: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” 2 Timothy 3:12 Other times, suffering is the result of living in a fallen world. “Though our bodies are dying,…” 2 Corinthians 4:16
Suffering can be beneficial: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:2-4 The Message
Ultimately, suffering is preparation for reigning with Christ eternally. “ If we endure, we will also rule together….” 2 Timothy 2:12
This year, I will be 70 years old. I don’t feel it, well, at least, most of the time. But as I get further into the last chapter(s) of my life, a thought keeps popping into my head. Has my life really mattered? Will anyone remember 100 years from now that I walked this earth for X number of years? Or did I just occupy space?
I probably will not leave this earth insanely rich or write a best-selling novel. It is highly unlikely that I will discover a cure for cancer. Very few will reach the level of being a legendary sports figure. While there has been many men and women who have achieved greatness, none have impacted humanity and history like Jesus Christ. His life has not only transformed individuals but it has also changed entire nations!
I know that no person can ever reach the level of influence that Jesus did but as a Christ-follower, my goal in life is to pattern my life after Him. I John 2.6 While on earth, He invested His life into the lives of His twelve disciples and they inturn invested their lives into others. The only way for your life to count, is to spiritually reproduce your life into the lives of others!
In 1995 there was an humorous ad for pizza that asked a rather serious question,”What do you want on your tombstone?” The question is implying how do you want to be remembered? That is a very important because it summarizes how our life has impacted others.
I am sure I will be remembered differently by different people. But the question is “How do I want people to remember me? It is rather obvious that the way I live my life is the way I will be remembered. Each of us have many opportunities to leave behind a positive legacy. We have the chance to be remembered for how we have impacted others’ lives for good.
Do you want to be remembered as caring, thoughtful, strong, fun and/or fair? Do you want others to remember you as the best husband, best boss, best coach, and/or best dad? Were you giving, honest and/or admired?
Jesus Christ is the most remembered man of all time. So we need to ask ourselves, “Why is He remembered by the entire human race?” This may somewhat simplistic but I think we can summarize His life under two main areas:
1] His love for the Father and doing His will. “ I obey my Father, so that everyone in the world might know that I love him.” John 14:31
2] He loved people and invested His life in them. John 3:16
Loving God and loving others seemed to work well for Jesus. I do not think we can improve on that!