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The title will be one of the great nonstarters in blogging history.  Suffering is not near the top of anyone’s list of great topics or dominant conversation starters at parties.  Now if you were going to discuss how not to suffer that would be a well-attended seminar.  I see very few books on Amazon or at the local Barnes and Noble dedicated to the subject of suffering.  Because we are so predisposed to keep pain and suffering at a minimum, I need to tell you that what I am meaning is not as painful as you might have imagined.  Because of the desire to be positive and to be goal oriented, I realized that for everything I wish to do on my list, and all the things I would like to accomplish also means there will be things that I will be unable to do and things that will never be on my to-do list.  For every dollar I spend on something is one less dollar to spend on something else.  Let me give you a couple of personal examples:  When I chose to go to Olivet Nazarene University, it meant I decided not to go to Purdue University.  When I chose to marry Susanne, it meant that I chose not to marry anyone else.  (Not that ladies were standing in line!!) When I chose to go on to seminary it meant that I worked in a doctors office and did not immediately move into pastoral ministry and had to forgo something.  Not precisely suffering on a global scale for sure.  Now what I am seeking to communicate is that we may ask the question backward, instead of asking what do you want to be or do or accomplish, we may be asking the question incorrectly, the problem should be what you are willing to forgo, or give up?  What I am describing was stated by Jesus, when he said, that anyone going to war or seeking to build a tower, must first sit down and count the cost.  Everything has a cost associated with it. If you go to war Jesus is saying, you cannot do anything else during that time.  If you desire to build a tower you have to ask yourself, ‘do I have sufficient funds?’ ‘Am I willing to turn aside from any other building projects that might present themselves to me while I am in the tower building phase of my life.  You can’t decide while you are in the middle of something, you need to make the decision prior and settle the issue. I have been discussing a biblical directive given by Jesus, and I have been talking about things that are valuable to us.  What about taking a new job?  You have no way of knowing today if a better one will materialize next week or next month.  What if you take this job and move and in a few days a job you may like better comes along, what do you do.  Are you willing to sign a contract obligating yourself for the foreseeable future and can you live with the pain of a ‘dream job’ appearing after the fact?  Are you willing to lose weight and get in shape, the goal is great, but are you willing to “suffer” by getting out of bed earlier and go to the gym and put yourself through the paces even in the early stage when you see little or no difference that is making.  Are you willing to pass up the banana split and pasta for the next few weeks?  It is not what you are eager to attain that will determine what happens in your life. Instead, it is what are you willing to not have and what pain are you ready to receive and what you’re willing to suffer?  Once that is determined you will then know what you are eager to achieve.

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