When You Choose to Suffer

One day during my stem cell transplant, probably while I was waiting to feel rubbish, I remember chiding myself that I chose this. I was in pretty good health when I came into hospital, and yet I’d decided to come to hospital and be made sick, and then to be off work sick and unemployed for 6 months. I wasn’t forced into it. Why did I do it? I think it’s what’s called, ‘getting cold feet’, but a bit late really since I’d already had all the chemo by that point!

And the truth is, I chose this for the sake of my long term health. If I don’t do this then the likelihood is that, having afflicted me three times already in the last six years, the lymphoma will keep coming back and need chemo every year or two, until it finally gets me. So I chose some short term pain for long term gain.

But with these thoughts going through my head, I was listening to some gospel music and a song came on called, “You Chose The Cross”. And I thought, there’s someone else who chose suffering, but on a much greater scale.

The difference is that Jesus chose suffering for others – for the sake of mankind – whereas I chose short term pain for my own long term benefit.

“Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

And that is the wonder of Christmas – that God’s eternal Son should give up his glory and splendour, to be born as a baby, in the humblest of circumstances, to live a life of sacrifice and ultimately to die on the cross (which was the plan all along).

And why? Matthew 1:21, “and you shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” He did it for all who will call upon him, trust in him, have faith in him, so that we might be saved from the sins that separate us from God and eternal life enjoying his goodness.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

There is no joy in Christmas without Good Friday and Easter Sunday. But the wonder of it all is that God himself in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ, should choose to make such a huge sacrifice so that we might share in his eternity.

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