On Fridays my prayerbook leads me to pray for all those who are broken: the sick, the enslaved, the troubled, the dying, and the like. And then it closes that section with this prayer:
"Relieve and comfort them all, O God, and make us, too, to rejoice in every experience, however hard, bitter, or costly, by which we are schooled in humble faith and in charity with our fellow men."
I find this last petition to be a prayer I need to have on my lips constantly, as it is the one that is the hardest to learn.
I can easily pray for those who are broken, that God would heal. I can easily pray for those who are crushed, that God would lift up. And I know that through their sufferings God will work good for them and for others. I know this. This is true. This is Biblical.
But when it comes to my own sufferings . . . well, I'd prefer to just avoid them. No matter that I can look back and confirm that the lessons God has taught me through trial and tribulation have benefited others many times over. No matter that can guarantee that the memory of my own personal suffering has on multiple occasions caused me to pause my busy day and grieve with another in empathy. No matter that I can assure you that my once proud and haughty faith that sought to dominate others has been refined as through fire into a much more simple, humble faith that seeks to serve others.
All of these things I know. All of these things I preach. And yet, when I find myself under duress, I just want it over. Over and done with. No lessons learned, thank you very much. And if you please, God, just return me to my comfortable life. Now, if you don't mind.
Teach me, O Lord, to trust you in the valley of shadows as readily as I do in the quiet pastures. Teach me, O Lord, to rejoice in the work you accomplish through suffering as readily as I do in the pleasant gifts you give.
Teach me, O Lord, to pick up my cross and follow you.
Teach me, O Lord, to be a Christian.