Some years ago Philip Yancey wrote a book called, Pain, the Gift Nobody Wants. People avoided the book. Even some who read most of what Yancey writes did not pick up this book. Why? Because we spend much of our lives avoiding pain. Why spend time reading about it?
So, when a dear brother, Ajith Fernando, recently wrote The Call to Joy and Pain: Embracing Suffering in Your Ministry, I found myself wondering if his book might also be avoided by many.
I hope it is not.
Ajith is uniquely positioned to write about both joy and pain. He ministers tirelessly in Sri Lanka, a war-torn country where Christians still face very real persecution. When I tell people about this passionate and humble man, I refer to him as “A male Mother Theresa.” Ajith serves with passion, pours out his life in faithful ministry, works with drug addicts, leads a ministry to students in Sri Lanka, writes great books, and speaks to leaders all over the world. His life and words have inspired me on many occasions.
In this small and readable book, Ajith argues (biblically and effectively) that suffering is an essential part of life and ministry. He builds a clear case that both joy and suffering are part of the journey of all who truly walk with Jesus. I particularly appreciated how he dug deep into the difference between pleasure and joy. In a pleasure seeking world, Ajith has helped me see that the enduring joy I know in Jesus is far more valuable than the myriad of fleeting pleasures that are available to me on a daily basis.
This book has made me want to walk closer with the Savior who endured the pain of the cross for the joy of our salvation.