“The Lonely Path to the Summit”
Paul summarizes all that he is facing in two phrases—he is “carrying in the body the death of Jesus,” but not without purpose, for it is “so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” Following a suffering and rejected Savior in a fallen world will involve suffering—both because the world is fallen and because the world rejects its King. But when we suffer and choose to trust Christ through the trials we face, we are filled with his power and presence, reflecting his image to those around us.
The road of hurt is marked by hope. But we shouldn’t underestimate that this road can, at times, be lonely. It was for Jesus, and it will be for those who follow in his steps.
I remember when we began realizing that my eldest son struggled in ways that other children seemed not to. I was on a scary journey that it seemed no one else could relate to. As the struggle intensified, I found myself pulling away from those I cared about, staying home, and pushing down the stress and emotional turmoil building within me. In the confusion, fear, and uncertain future, I felt utterly alone.
But—and I still find this surprising, and wonderful—over these lonely years I have discovered within me a thankfulness for the lonely road I have been given to travel. Walking it has brought me a greater understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ and to know him not only as my Savior, but my comfort, sustainer, hope, and strength. There’s something about having our worldly comforts stripped away, and company around us falling away, that allows us to begin to experience the true depth, length, and height of his love for us.
Jesus knows the pain of loneliness. He knows the loneliness of being misunderstood, the loneliness of being rejected by his own family, the loneliness of praying in agony while his closest friends drifted off to sleep nearby, and the loneliness of being abandoned by his Father. And he did it all for you.
One day, the road will end, and it will end in the eternal city of God’s people. The loneliness of this world will be washed away in the presence of Christ. The path is uphill, but the summit is glorious.