Do you ever feel like you can’t catch a break – like people and circumstances are constantly raising their hands against you? This is part of what life is like sometimes. Life on earth is difficult. Sometimes, even for long periods of time, life can feel oppressive – and bring suffering. Understanding this reality can be helpful – everyone suffers, and everyone needs to learn to persevere.
Unfortunately, many people of faith are baffled when they hit difficult patches. They subtly or blatantly believe that their lives should be easier because they have faith in God. This is wrong theologically and unhelpful in practice.
Jesus’ life was difficult, and it grew more difficult as He continued in His faithful devotion to the Father. The apostle Paul’s life was also difficult. Yet, rather than being perplexed by his difficulties or feeling sorry for himself, Paul invited his spiritual son and apprentice to “join him in suffering like a good...