HOW TO TURN YOUR PAINS INTO GAINS REFLECTION FOR THE PASSION SUNDAY Rev. Fr. Bonnie Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

There Are No Gains Without Pains - No Pain No Gain - Sticker | TeePublic

Can you recall any experience of intense suffering and pains? Have you been at an agonizing point in your life where nobody seems to care, and the best among your close allies abandons you? Sometimes, when we go through some challenges and changes in life, some people around us tend to change or back-off. Difficult situations indeed reveal our true friends and the unreal ones. Please, do not disregard anyone who stands with you during your tough struggles.

The events between the entry of our Lord Jesus Christ to Jerusalem and his death on the cross give us a powerful narrative about suffering, pains, and abandonment. Imagine how the ovation that accompanied our Lord to Jerusalem suddenly turned into aggression and a public acclamation to crucify him on the cross. Imagine how the jubilation of the crowd turned into insults, arrests, and brutality.

As the events unfolded, one of the trusted disciples betrayed him with a kiss and received a reward of thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16). Another vested with a leadership position denied his master three times (Matthew 26:69–75). Finally, everyone deserted him and fled (Mark 14:50).

The Necessity of Christ’s Suffering

Why did God allow his Son to go through suffering to pardon our sins? Was the suffering of Jesus Christ necessary? We could understand the necessity of the passion and death of Christ better when we have clarity about the damaging effect of the sin of Adam and Eve.

The sin of our first parents was so huge that no sacrifice was sufficient to make up for the fall, not even the blood of humans. God’s compassionate love moved Him to atone for our sin through His only begotten Son, Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16).

Now, the suffering part would excite any active-minded Christian. The intensity of the suffering of Christ shows the nature and gravity of the sin of Adam and Eve. The prophet Isaiah (53:5) says, “but he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises, we are healed.”

Another spectrum of the suffering of Christ is the fact of God identifying with our human struggles and sufferings. The Letter to the Hebrews (4:15) says, for we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been testedas we are, yet without sin.

Through the suffering of Christ, we understand that God knows our pains and struggles because He has been there. Name anything you have been through; Jesus had a similar and even more excruciating experience. Talk about insult, betrayal, abandonment, unfair judgment, physical pain, and cruel death, Jesus experienced all of them.

Turning Your Pains into Gains

The challenge is not about what happens to us in life but how we respond to them. Yes, there are sorrowful moments, but they are not forever. Our Lord Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem with shouts of joy and the Hosanna hymns before his arrest, unfair trial, beatings, and execution. But that would not end the story.

Your story would not end with the sufferings of the moment. What is most important is what you do with whatever is confronting you. You may not change the situation, but you can change the way you approach the problem. At this point, we look at the PAINS approach that could lead us to GAINS. PAINS is here an acronym that means Positive Attitude In Negative Situations.

We learn the PAINS approach from the best, our Lord Jesus Christ. He did not complain nor curse anyone during the passion leading to his death on the cross. He encouraged those weeping for him (Luke 23:28). He prayed for his executioners; “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34). Jesus left everything in the hands of God as cries: “into your hands Lord I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). He also declared, “it is finished” (John 19:30).

Moving Forward: Becoming a Cross Bearer

The struggles in life are real but so are the blessings that come from them. The struggles of today are developing in you the strength you need for tomorrow. The passion of Christ leaves us with the lesson that suffering is a necessary route towards a glorious future. Nothing great comes easy, not even our redemption. We further learn that to be a Christian is to be a Cross Bearer. The cross is a plus or addition sign; the cross is a platform to scale through life’s obstacles. The cross is your spiritual sword. You are a CROSS that means Christian Running Over Satan and Setback. You are blessed.

Fr. Bonnie.                                             

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