I love hearing truth from Christians who have suffered in raw and real ways, especially from those who have been graced with an eternal perspective that overshadows the depth of their affliction. Joni Eareckson Tada is a hero of mine, and she's helped me to hone my thoughts about pain and suffering. After listening to a message from Joni about entering into the fellowship of Christ's sufferings, I've been trying to reprogram my thinking about what it means to take up my cross. I'm warning you. She takes that wheelchair of hers and rolls right over your toes; then she backs up, and she rolls right over them again.
"My cross to bear is not my wheelchair. Your cross to bear is not your dead-beat job, your meddlesome in-laws, your bickering children, your disappointing marriage, your dysfunctional family, your inadequate income, or your failing health. It is our complaints & disputes, our anxieties & fears, our grumblings & murmurings, our bitterness & resentments that we are called to die to daily. It is ourselves--our negative attitudes & faithless responses--that we are called to deny as we joyfully enter the fellowship of suffering w/ a Savior who has freed us not to be sinless, but to sin less."