A few weeks ago, I was at a conference in St. Catharines where there was free time built into the schedule, and two colleagues and I decided to go mountain biking for the afternoon.  We had a beautiful ride along the 12 Mile Creek, but found ourselves in a hurry to get back, yet on the wrong side of the river.  We came to an old stone structure that looked like it was once a dam, and decided we could cross there and climb the escarpment to the top of the trail.  I warned the others that the escarpment could be steep, but we went for it anyway.

We had no trouble crossing the creek, or climbing 90% of the escarpment.  But it was the very top of the cliff when we faced a sheer vertical rise, with heavy mountain bikes.  I braced my bike behind me, and used my other hand to grab onto some roots and rocks to help me up.  Right near the top, one of those rocks gave way, tumbled down and hit me square in the knee.

I wanted to stop and check my knee, of course, but couldn’t.  If I stopped now, I’d either drop my bike, or tumble down the cliff myself. I kept climbing, aware of the pain, but committed to getting to the top.  When I did, I could see the bleeding and feel the pain, but had to bike all the way around a small lake to get back to the conference. Even once I got back, I encountered a new pain as I put ice on the knee.

Now this was hardly the worst pain I ever felt, and it pales in comparison to the pain that many suffer through chronic illness, injuries and more.  Sometimes pain is unavoidable, and something we would never choose but simply endure.  But there are other times, like this time I’ve described, where we choose to endure pain for a different purpose.  We can trade pain for our safety, health, reputation, fame, money and more.

What is the most painful thing you’ve done?  Why did you do it?

Maybe it was dental surgery?  I can be supremely uncomfortable, but necessary to avoid future pain.

Maybe it was a sporting event, like a triathlon or a Crossfit routine. You ached for days, but it was all to grow stronger, healthier or achieve something difficult.

The list could go on.  This week we’ll hear the story of someone who underwent incredible suffering, even death, for a cause he felt was worthwhile.  And no, I’m not talking about Jesus, but the person we’ll learn about this week was trying to follow him.

Question: What is the most painful thing you’ve done?  Why did you do it?

Meeting with a Group?  Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide

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