There is an instinct in human beings to avoid pain and sufferings. There is a saying – “If there is no pain, there will be no gain”. In fact there can be gain without any pain. There can be gain with pain. There can be pain without gain. Gain without pain is always welcome. Wise people face the pain if there is any possibility of gain and avoid pain if there is no possibility of gain. One sort of pain without gain is worrying. That is why in Mt 6:25-34 Jesus tells us not to worry about food, drink, clothing or tomorrow.
The pain with the greatest gain was the suffering and death of Jesus. The pain too was in proportion to the gain. The sufferings that Jesus underwent have no parallels in human history. When such sufferings were foretold by Jesus, the disciples instinctively wanted to avoid even listening to it. They were discussing about who among them was the greatest. Peter sad, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you” (Mt 16:22). The Mother of the sons of Zebedee wanted to ensure the place on right and on the left of Jesus for her own sons. Jesus knew that he had to face the greatest pain in human history, because that would result in the greatest gain in human history. He foresaw the gain. The Letter to the Hebrews says, “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:1-2)
Jesus compared the pain of ushering in Salvation to the labour pain. He told his disciples, “Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (Jn 16:20-22)
May the hope of heaven and eternal life give us the impetus to carry our own cross and follow Jesus.