Wander through the streets of Kathmandu and you’re bound to hear the mechanical creaking of Buddhist prayer wheels punctuating the city’s soundscape. Ranging in size from tin can to oil drum, these cylinders contain a scroll inscribed with thousands upon thousands of copies of Buddhism’s central mantra Om Mani Padme Hum. Notoriously difficult to translate, the phrase is said to contain the essence of all the Buddha’s teachings.
Adherents believe that spinning the wheels releases the energy of the mantra, purifying the environment and any nearby beings of the negative karma that causes suffering. Because for Buddhists, suffering is the problem.
But for Christians, suffering is the path. To follow in the footsteps of Christ is to pick up a cross daily, surrendering to the process of sanctification even when it hurts. Which isn’t to say it’s all pain.
“For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also is our comfort abundant through Christ.”
—2 Corinthians 1:5
In embracing the “fellowship of His sufferings” (Phil. 3:10), we find not only comfort but also intimacy. Rather than an impersonal energy that filters out “unnecessary” suffering, our God is a loving Father who came to suffer with us—and for us!—so that we might experience the joy of knowing Him.