1 Peter 4:13 (NASB) 
”  but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing. . . .”

It is often sopken in our American notions and the Christian Church that we shouldn’t have to suffer.  And when I find myself in that place of suffering – the agonies of personal loss, the hurts of rejections, untold fears, the peroids of lonliness, the tradgdies I see on the six-o-clock news, like Sandy – I often feel anguish beyond what I feel I can bare and only want somehow for it all to end.   Nothing makes sense and my emotions run wild driving me crazy.  I don’t in those moments understand my Lord.  I suddenly understand the drunk, the drug addict, the homeless, the grieving, the angry, the frightened, the confused.  When the suffering suddenly becomes personal your view of life and the world changes.

Recient events in my personal life like Hurricane Sandy and a new woman brought into my life have awakened feelings I haven’t had for a very long time.  Feelings I didn’t want to experience anymore.  I didn’t know it, but I was slowly trying to create a life void of those feelings.  No more emotional pain.  Just a quiet life with a few friends, my children and grandchildren.  Going out and taking a few pictures, making my own man cave to hide in when life was too much.   No suffering!   But I have come to know that is not living, not even exsiting, but slowly dying and very lonely death.

So what does it mean to live this life with suffering?  How do I live it – and even more “rejoice” in it?

Slowly I am learning it means to love again, to risk, to suffer with others, to comfort others because you have been there.  It means to live this life with others and share  the experience of this life of loving.  It means that “long suffering” is the first words in the defintion of love.  It means that suffering is God’s way to life while I am here.  It is where I find Him and learn He understands my suffering and I understand His suffering.  It is where I learn that my suffering may not be for me at all, but for the benifit of someone else who is suffering.

If I can grasp that concept even for a moment, I just might understand a little of His suffering for me and what and why I am still here.  Will I grasp some joy that His suffering reconciled me to our Father and that while I am still here – will I embrace my sufferings as His sufferings for others that the Lords brings my way?

Most days it feels as though I fail, caught up in my own pains,  but I have come to realize that all this  means live or die, period.  I have come to see Christ in me, so I get up in the morning for another day and fight.  I listen and watch for Him in my day and join in what I see Him doing.  When I fall down – He is graceous, merciful, kind, patient and forgiving.  And now has given me a helpmate to share in this life of suffering together with and for His Glory.

The christian church often wants you to believe that life will be great and easy when Christ comes in your life.  But He never tells us that.  It isn’t in the “Book”.  It is hard work.  It is painful, It can be thankless,  But if you are willing to embrace some suffering and most days I complain,  you will find joy.  For me it comes when someone reaches out to me for help, for an ear, because they have seen my sufferings.  Suddenly all  my sufferings have meaning and purpose.  My life has purpose.   Does your life have purpose?