“This concept of accepting suffering as a normal part of our everyday experience is resisted in the west. We’re taught just the opposite. Everything in our culture, personal lives and churches is geared to avoid sacrifice and suffering. We believe that we must wait for disaster or a time of tribulation to suffer, that sacrifice and self-denial are only reserved for special, temporary situations.

But that’s not the way anything works in real life- not in the church and not in the world.

We celebrate the dedication of Olympic athletes who diet and train and exercise daily for years in order to prepare for the games. They give up not only physical comfort but any hope of a normal social and family life.

When police officers or fire fighters die, thousands often turn out for their funerals. We honor our children who die in military service in much the same way– often arranging public ceremonies and holidays. The Vietnam Memorial in Washington is considered one of the most popular tourist sites in the U.S.

We expect TV celebrities such as actors, news correspondents and musicians to sacrifice any kind of normal life in order to entertain us around the clock– and they are paid millions of dollars to do so.

The names of astronauts become household words because they risk their lives in order to forward the conquest of space.

But the minute a Christian young person starts to fast and pray, consider the mission field, or give up career or romance for Christ– concerned counselors, family and friends will spend hours trying to keep him or her from “going off the deep end on this religious stuff.” Even devout Christian parents will oppose Christian service when their own son or daughter is about to give up all for Christ.

Discipline, pain, sacrifice and suffering are rewarded with fame and fortune in the world. Why then do we refuse to accept it as a normal part of giving spiritual birth in the Kingdom of our Lord?

The biblical requirement is that we should voluntarily go out of our way to accept assignments that involve suffering. But this teaching has been so long neglected that even the sound of it has become strange to our ears.

~  K.P. Yohannan  –   The Road to Reality


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