"For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.”
Jesus had a tough job. And at this moment I am not talking about his impending suffering and death on the cross. I am talking about the struggle he had preparing his Apostles for their role as followers of a controversial Messiah. Following Jesus means following him in wisdom, grace, and mercy, but also into struggle, suffering and death. No wonder the disciples had so much trouble understanding and accepting Jesus' words. It shouldn't be surprising so many of us struggle with Jesus' words today.
Theologian Elisabeth Koenig gets to the heart of the passage. "The themes of discipleship and faith are renewed here too, because Jesus’ approaching passion and death will demand that the Twelve adjust their understanding not only of God and Jesus, but also of who they themselves are and of what they believe." Jesus' life, death, and resurrection wasn't just something that happened to this itinerant preacher from the Galilee. The Apostles, the Reformation leaders, the Civil Rights pioneers, and each of us are likewise called to adjust our understanding of who we are and what we believe.
A faithful life is not free from struggle, humiliation, and even suffering. God often puts the most faithful people in the most difficult situations. God is less likely to put weak people in unfavorable circumstances because they often are not capable of getting the best results. 1 Corinthians 10:13 is a passage I have lived by my entire adult life. "No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it." Through the Almighty power of the Holy Spirit, God will guide you safely through life and death and ultimately bring you the same resurrection as Jesus Christ our Lord.
Today, honestly offer God your deepest struggles. Share your fears and desires. Then, listen to your thoughts throughout the day. God will often find a moment later when you are relaxed and not expecting it. God will give you the feelings and/or thoughts necessary to bring support to your present challenges. God is all powerful, loving, and cares about you. Your struggles are not beyond God's ability to heal. Trust! Have Faith!