All this talk of suffering. It’s all so depressing. But during the season of Lent, why wouldn’t it be?

Perhaps, if we leaned into this feeling, we could offer more support to those who suffer with mental illness, the “oddballs” and the quiet geniuses.

I’ve been talking about being down and out for weeks now. I even turned it into a series.

Has anyone been listening? Have you called to check on your friend or family member that seems a bit distant? Have you offered support to the one exorcised for exercising their gifts?

I know “we don’t talk about Bruno.” “Encanto,” a musical sensation, gave this sad reality rhythm, so we can’t help but move on it.

Some people thought Jesus was losing his mind. They were going to put him in a straitjacket and lock him up for the rest of his life. Delusional or demon-possessed, either way, he needed to be removed from the public eye (Mark 3:19b-30).

All this talk about the Son of God when he is clearly the son of Mary, Jesus was “talking crazy,” right? Perhaps he had one too many glasses of wine?

We need to sit him down. Because where is he going with all of this? Whose idea was it on the Trinity committee to sign God up for suffering?

The world is bent over with suffering and Jesus has bent over backwards to prove himself through his own. Still, we identify by denominations rather than his agony.

Last year, and in light of the global pandemic, the Pew Research Center released a study that found Americans largely believe that human beings are to blame for the pain in the world — not God.

But before we point the finger or pat ourselves on the back, the survey reported that 71% were thankful that the bad stuff wasn’t coming their way.

Praise God, it’s you and not me! Hallelujah! It’s Jesus and not me!

We know someone must suffer, and we are glad that we don’t have to do it. Now where are we on this Lenten journey?

It can all feel so disorienting with all its highs and lows. But what hasn’t changed is our unwillingness to identify with the wounds of Christ.

We love Jesus for it, but we wouldn’t trade places with him for all the souls in the world. “Save yourself, Jesus! Wait. Save yourself and me! Correction: Save yourself, me and my family!” Now, we’re talking.

Let’s focus on the selfishness that produces human suffering. Let’s discuss the fact that when push comes to shove comes to cross-bearing, most of us only care about what happens to us and our family.

We don’t protest in cases of police brutality. We blame victims of sexual predation, abuse and harassment. We don’t give persons who have been incarcerated a chance to redeem themselves once they have reentered society. All because it happened to them and not us.

We don’t understand their suffering. We have not experienced that kind of suffering. We don’t believe that they have suffered anything.

But what about Jesus whose clothes were ripped off him by Roman soldiers? He was mocked and beaten viciously before he could secure a lawyer or stand in front of a jury.

The church is often described as the hands and feet of Christ. How then do we identify with the body of Christ but not his suffering, this suffering?

This Americanized gospel focuses on success, which lessens the chances of our suffering. But there is no way around the cross.  Jesus says, “Take up your cross and follow me.”

Walking with Jesus comes with suffering. If it doesn’t, then I am certain that you have walked away from him. Christians going their own way because it makes them feel better and calling it Christianity.

It reminds me of the first disciples who walked away to save face, to save their skin, to save their lives rather than to be caught dead with Jesus. Three years of ministry together and every single disciple left at the first sign of suffering.

Giving up chocolate or social media for 40 days is no comparison.

Jesus is betrayed, rejected and denied. This is its own kind of suffering. Facing crucifixion, it is suffering on top of suffering.

It makes me feel bad for Jesus and, if you really think about it, it can be depressing.

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