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Can’t Stand the Suffering?

How to tell the difference between not being able to do something or not willing.

Can't stand the suffering?

One of the things I love about living in New York is that life is rarely a drive-by situation. When you walk (a lot) and ride subways and buses, it’s all right there in your face. Some days it’s the odd outfits people wear that amuses me, and others it’s the conversations I overhear.

The other day my grown daughter and I were walking up the street, and as we paused to wait for the light to change, I saw a mom with a 3-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. By the grip the mom had on the preschooler’s scooter, it was clear there had been some infraction of the rules. Her son was in the midst of a meltdown.

“I CAN’T WALK!” the boy howled, tugging at the scooter and jumping up and down, “I CAN’T WALK!”

The mother waited for the light as if nothing was amiss. The older sister glanced around to see if anyone was watching, so I quickly pretended I hadn’t seen or heard a thing. The boy grew louder and louder and more and more dramatic. I admired the mother’s calm detachment. Her son was putting on quite a show. 

My daughter turned and said in a bemused whisper, “If he has the energy to jump around like that, he surely has the energy to walk!”

I nodded and grinned. “Yup!” I replied, “But he doesn’t see that. All he knows is that he doesn’t like something, and instead of saying, ‘I don’t wanna!’ he is saying he can’t.” 

My daughter blinked in surprise. “But I do that sometimes, too!” she said, “Even now, as an adult.” 

“We all do, honey. Maybe we don’t jump up and down like that, but an awful lot of our ‘I can’t’ is actually code for ‘I don’t wanna!’” 

It’s hard to take up your cross if you fall into thinking you can’t stand the suffering.

Maybe you can’t… or maybe you don’t wanna. Jesus gave us a way to tell the difference: Next time you are focused on having a bitter cup go away, try using His words, instead. “Thy will be done.

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