The Call to Joy and Pain
Embracing Suffering in Your Ministry
Joy and pain are both aspects of the call of God for the Christian. The Bible even presents pain as a source of our joy. Ajith Fernando’s book explores how this is so, showing the connection between rejoicing and suffering, how suffering draws us nearer to God, and how suffering makes us more effective in service.
The author combines biblical exposition, keen pastoral insight, and cross-cultural wisdom in his writing. He opens reader’s eyes to a truth that we may already suspect is so: we in the West have much to learn about suffering.
By examining Paul’s words on the subject of suffering for Christ from Colossians 1:24-29, Fernando Ajith (a native of Sri Lanka) thoughtfully explains how suffering can be a blessing to the individual Christian and to the church as a whole. His book will help Christians joyfully embrace the life of service and total devotion to Jesus, despite the pain it entails.
“Ajith Fernando understands the pitfalls of pain, as well as the heavenly heights of Spirit-blessed joy. As one who is intimately acquainted with the hardships of a wheelchair, I am truly grateful for the insights he shares in this exceptional new book.” — Joni Eareckson Tada, director, Joni and Friends International Disability Center
“Ajith Fernando demonstrates that the call to suffer is an invitation to joy. We do not find a dour or depressing vision of the Christian life here. Nor can Fernando’s work be dismissed as unrealistic-he does not deny the pain we experience in suffering. The work is biblically grounded, refreshingly honest, and full of practical wisdom.” —
Thomas R. Schreiner, Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Professor of Biblical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
“When I moved from the sterility of the academy to the real life of pastoring, I had no idea of the amount of conflict and pain that could come from within a church. I wish I had been prepared for the joy and pain of ministry and how I was being called to embrace that suffering. Thank you, Ajith, for putting my experience in biblical perspective. We are called to embrace joy in the midst of pain, to lean into the pain and become like Christ.” — William D. Mounce, President, BiblicalTraining.org
About the Author
Ajith Fernando (ThM, Fuller Theological Seminary) is the teaching director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka after serving as the ministry’s national director for thirty-five years. He and his wife, Nelun, are active in a church ministering primarily to the urban poor, and his ministry includes counseling and mentoring younger staff and pastors. He is the author of seventeen books published in nineteen languages. Ajith lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka, with his wife, and they have two adult children and two grandchildren.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Suffering and Joy are Basic to Christianity
- 1) Two Basic Aspects of Christianity
- 2) A Forgotten Treasure
- 3) Bursts of Pleasure
- 4) Lament
- 5) Faith and Endurance
- 6) Surrender
- 7) Not Gluttons for Punishment
- 8) A Theological Blind Spot?
Part 2: Suffering Brings us Nearer to Christ
- 9) The Fellowship of Suffering
- 10) Becoming Like Christ
- 11) Motives Purified
- 12) Shame and Honor
- 13) Solidarity with Christ
Part 3: Our Suffering Helps the Church
- 14) Suffering and Church Growth
- 15) Demonstrating the Gospel
- 16) Identifying With People
- 17) Deepening Our Impact
- 18) Suffering and Credibility
- 19) Commitment Begets Commitment
- 20) Avoid Commitment and Avert Suffering
- 21) Commitment and the Joyous Life
Part 4: Servants of the Church
- 22) Ministers and Stewards
- 23) Servanthood Springs from Grace
- 24) We Are Rich!
- 25) The Hope of Glory
- 26) Jesus our Message
- 27) Disciples are Made, Not Born
- 28) Toil in Disciple-Making
- 29) He Gives the Strength
Part 5: A Concluding Meditation
- 30) A Paradox of the Christian Life