Step Into Your Pain

Been thinking about these verses lately:
"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. "He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39)

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26)

In his "Notes on the Bible", Albert Barnes gives us a historical perspective on the phrase "take up his cross":
'When persons were condemned to be crucified, a part of the sentence was that they should carry the cross on which they were to die to the place of execution. Thus, Christ carried his, until he fainted from fatigue and exhaustion.'

'To carry it was burdensome, was disgraceful, was trying to the feelings, was an addition to the punishment. So “to carry the cross” is a figurative expression, denoting that we must endure whatever is burdensome, or is trying, or is considered disgraceful, in following Christ."

Can you relate to the idea of losing your life? It is a somewhat alien idea for most of us who grew up in the me generation. Jesus speaks to us and says that we cannot live unless we die. He emphasizes the point by speaking of gaining the world and losing your soul - pretty sobering stuff. For me this idea of losing my life got practical when I was confronted by the loss of my first wife Ellen - enduring and experiencing loss of any kind engages us in the grieving process. When I think of grief I always think about my grief recovery group and about it's leader Chaplain Mike who told us that grieving is a proactive process - no one grieves passively. I vividly remember Mike's challenge to "step into your pain". So often we spend so much energy walking around our pain instead of walking through it. This is particularly true of emotional pain.

I think that when Jesus says "take up his cross" He is speaking about stepping into painful areas of our lives. He is talking about believing in the midst of difficult circumstances - trusting and remaining in Him when everything in you is screaming run. Pain won't let you stay who you are - it will change you ... it will make you bitter or better. Here is Jesus' three step approach to losing your life:
  1. Deny Yourself: Thayer's Greek Dictionary defines the word translated 'deny' like this: "to lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests". This is the heart of the sacrificial life. No one ever sacrificed for another and held on to their own interests. This is our call - to lead lives of sacrifice for Jesus and for each other.
  2. Take Up Your Cross: Embracing hardship, difficulty and pain is often where the sacrificial life gets real. It can be said that sacrifice is not sacrifice unless it hurts. These are the times that try us and sift us. Jesus says of these things: "Pick them up and embrace them"!
  3. Follow Jesus: The path of our cross was modeled by our Lord in a profound way when He picked up His cross for us. When we follow Him we follow this path. When He picked up His cross He stepped into pain ... physical pain ... emotional pain ... spiritual pain. It was intentional. His pain bought our redemption and provided for our reconciliation.

Being an active believer is often not an easy road because it is the path of sacrifice ... it is the way of the cross ... it steps into pain. Next time you are tempted to take an easy route just follow Jesus' 3 steps instead. You will be better for it.


  1. I will admit that I have been by here 3 or 4 times since you posted this. And each time, I read the title "Step into your pain" and thought, "Oooo, I don't know if I wanna read that."

    Well finally I did. (sorry for the delay.)

    KB, I don't think you could be more on track with this post. In my opinion, the fact that we skirt around the painful discipling of God is what's holding the Kingdom of God on earth from forcefully advancing.

    Jesus said that in this life we will have trouble. I don't think he was only talking about the persecutions of centuries ago. I believe he was talking about the everyday challenges of being a true disciple of Jesus.

    Thanks. I'll link to this post on my site later.

  2. This was so good.

    This is the truth isn't it? This is what the Bible says.

  3. KB, I cannot relate to the depth of pain that you must've felt with the loss of Ellen. I have known pain and had many deep questions when enduring difficult emotional hardships.

    Jesus was the inspiration to get me through my daughter's premature birth and her 5 week stay in the NICU where things were touch-and-go at the beginning. But I have learned a similar lesson, although I can't say that I'm ready to "step into the pain".

    I can confidently say that I no longer run away from painful experiences. I don't particularly run to them though, I let them meet me head on. It seems that it's a half-step short of "stepping into the pain".

    Good stuff.

  4. This is an excellent post, KB. So true...painfully true!
    And, if we don't step into the pain, He will present us with many more opportunities to do guess we can't keep running.

  5. This is an outstanding post, Bob. Sometimes we forget that while salvation costs us nothing, discipleship may cost us everything. I am going to post a link to this article tomorrow.

  6. interesting post KB.

    you wouldnt know this, but in my part of the world, the initials, KB stand for a legendary Melbourne football hero.. he played for the richmond Tigers.. but that is neither here..

    nor there..

    clearly you know about grief. Did the anger and pain of the Psalms comfort and encourage you? Give voice to your anguish?

    Isnt there only one sacrifice for all? We cant add anything to the sacrifice of jesus, surely..
    except the sacrifice of a broken heart of course, coz that sacrifice, God does not despise..

  7. Hi Monk. Guess I'm famous and I don't know it :)

    I relate to the Psalms and have had psalm-like experiences as I have worshipped Jesus in my darkest times. Pouring my heart out to Him as I walked through the grief steps sustained me and helped me press on.

    Concerning ...

    "We cant add anything to the sacrifice of jesus"

    ... I think of what Paul said:

    Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions. (Colossians 1:24)

    Jesus' example on the cross is one that gives me hope as I pick up my own cross ... my own pain ... and follow Him.

    Blessings, KB

  8. I have always been a huge risk taker. Will even be going through some of the more dangerous places in Afghanistan in August. So, losing my life has never been a concern; it's always been a possibility that I have embraced. After all, it is not my call as to how long I hang onto this life. That is God's call. As for taking up the cross, I have found that taking it up is easier than continuing to carry it, step after step, day after day...!

  9. Such true, powerful words, Bob. You always get the point over so well and paint a word picture. Appreciate your posts, even though few lately :o(

  10. Yes, Paul understood this so well, but we have watered it down. I think God will give us all a cross if we are serious about following Him, because it is our opportunity to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, and to see that His power is made perfect in our weakness. I wish it wasn't that way, but His way is perfect.


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