There was a long time when I did not take Satan seriously. Why worry? I thought that if I kept my eyes fixed on Jesus alone, I would be able to ignore what’s evil. It wouldn’t touch me.

In later years I came to see my mistake. I came to see how naïve I’d been. I learned how staying away from what I considered evil will not guarantee that evil will stay away from me. Evil comes in many forms—some of it disguised as “good.” It can mess with your mind.

But it’s easy to make another mistake too. To focus on evil, forgetting what Jesus looks like. Forgetting that Jesus saves us from the sinful actions directed at us and the sin we have inside ourselves. Through his death and resurrection he has overcome.

And so, as we move towards Easter, I’ll try to move closer to Jesus than I have lately been. I will share with you some mailings from the past, those written during times I felt closest to Jesus—during times when I was suffering. We’ll start with this one:


Written in July 2017

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3:10-11

I wondered to myself: As Jesus hung on the cross, did he feel compassion from anyone? Did anyone at all understand his pain? Did he feel loved? I suspect not, except by a few maybe. We need to grieve for him and all he went through.

When we suffer, does anyone understand our pain?

I love Jesus—he who suffered and knows my own suffering so well! He who loved so much that he gave his life for me, losing love he himself once had. Being rejected and abandoned by those who had once loved him must have been the worst part—worse than the physical pain he endured.

Have you ever been rejected and abandoned by someone you cared about and felt the unbearable emotional pain that brings? That’s what it must have been for Jesus, though so much worse. If you’ve gone through this, understanding Christ’s story might help you make sense of your own. When we understand—even somewhat—what Jesus suffered and feel along with him, we are participating with him in the anguish he experienced. We will more fully know him. We will see how we’re not alone.

As I worked on writing a study series with the focus on Fellowship with God I wanted to get away from fellowshipping with Christ in his suffering. “Time to leave the suffering behind,” I told a friend. I want more positives in my life. I want light, joy, hope, freedom, love. Isn’t that what fellowship with God brings?

But you know, I’m learning to see that fellowship with God is to walk with him through all you might go through—the good and the bad. Being joyful and free from grief and sorrow is not a requirement when you follow God. You can be close to him wherever your mood might take you.

Whether we’re going through valleys or over mountain tops, he’ll be with us. If we’re suffering, he’s with us. If we’re joyous he’ll celebrate with us. When we stick by him, trust him and let him lead we’ll find a measure of healing. He’s a friend who will always be with us.

Are you suffering? Jesus understands and joins you in it. Will you join him in his? You’ll be close to someone who loves you deeply. Someone who has given his all for you.

But Jesus rose from death and suffering, and so can we.