For the last several months I have been contemplating suffering. I’ve spent many hours reading, praying, researching why suffering happens and what it means for me.
Today my eyes are opened to another side of suffering: the joy.
First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all. Hebrews 10:8-10
The writer of Hebrews was referring to Psalm 40:8 when speaking of Jesus. “I delight to do your will.” (NASB)
To truly know that someone loves us, there must be a freedom by which they love us. It cannot be forced upon them. If a person does good things for us because someone is making him, that isn’t showing love. For example, the doctor who sees the sick patient, makes the diagnosis and writes the prescription is not necessarily showing love but doing his job. However, the friend who hears that he is sick and then drops what he is doing to attend his sick friend does so out of true love. No one is forcing him.
And so we see Christ’s love for us in his freedom: “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” John 10:18
There was a joy in Jesus. He delighted in doing the will of God. He was free to rejoice in the redeeming work. His physical anguish of the cross was not changed. He felt every thorn, every wip, every pound of the nail. But Jesus was sustained through it all by joy. He wanted to save us.
…Who for the joy set before him endured the cross… Hebrews 12:2
That joy was in knowing that his pain was producing a beautiful redeemed people. That joy was in showing us the love he has for us.
And so, this Easter morning, I contemplate my own suffering. Do I make light of the pain in my heart? Do I hope for more pain? Of course not. The pain hurts. Deeply.
But there is an ever deeper deep in my heart. And it is here that Jesus is. It is in the core of my being, beyond the pain, that I sense his presence, his hand at work in me.
And that is where the joy is.
It is in knowing that the pain is producing a beautiful work in me. And I will be changed forever.
Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. Psalm 42:7