I spend much of my days shoring up that I do not suffer. I take aspirin. I work hard to ensure my kids are quite and not yelling. I turn the news off that I don’t want to see. I time my driving so to avoid traffic. I delay sharing bad or unwelcome news with others. I order things online so I do not have to go to the store. I look for the shortest lines.
As a human I work to avoid suffering but as a Christian I know that suffering has immense value. As Paul writes:
And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.- Romans 5:3-5 (NRSV)
Paul seems to suggest that suffering is the road to hope. It is a road less traveled in my life.
I live in a bubble wrapped existence where the extent of my suffering is a power outage for a few hours or failing to meet some arbitrary expectation. I can imagine that many of us in the Church in the United States also do not suffer much at all. Which of course begs the question - if we suffer little do we hope for less?