I think the biggest lesson I’m learning, and maybe a lesson we are all learning in America right now, is the reality of ‘suffering for the Christian faith.
For Christ-followers, the cross is not just applied to us for our salvation, but is the path we walk for our sanctification and growth in the faith. In the words of author C.S. Lewis, “The cross, comes before the crown,” meaning that suffering in the Christian life is not just followed by glory, but suffering produces glory in the Christian life. For a prosperous nation and a generally prosperous church, God is showing us that living a faithful Christian life is much more like a J, than a ladder. Like our Savior, glory and redemption come through suffering, not through comfort. Our call as Christians is to persevere in our suffering by focusing on Christ who overcame on our behalf through perseverance.
As a college minister, I have seen many ways students are suffering, particularly during this worldwide health crisis. Just in the last six weeks, I’ve seen students going through real suffering. I’ve seen how this suffering is producing in them a greater joy and dependence upon Jesus. God is not ‘on pause’ until this suffering passes, but is actually working in and through the suffering to produce something in these students, and in each of us at this time. I’ve noticed this suffering in our seniors who are missing out on their last semester of college and long-awaited graduation festivities. I have also seen this heartache in one of our students, whose mom has been fighting for her life on a ventilator, due to COVID-19.
As day-to-day suffering has increased, so has the glory of Jesus Christ in the heart of these students. This is something that we desperately need to learn and lean into. I’m thankful to minister among college students who have shown me over and over again that, in Jesus, glory and suffering always go together.