Do you like to suffer? I know, I know, that sounds like a dumb question.
Our culture primes us to want comfort and ease, and now we have robot vacuums and lawn mowers and self-driving and self-parallel parking cars! We usually prefer a sense of security, and don't we all like a good night's sleep?
Gospel culture takes us the opposite direction. Jesus gave up His place in heaven and humbled Himself in becoming a human. The incarnation (God becoming man) was humiliation.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)
Jesus gave up His comfort and ease, entering into our human spaces and experience. That in itself was suffering. But he continued, all the way to the cross.
What does that mean for us? It means that He loves us. His suffering was because of God's love for us.
Our culture too quickly dismisses suffering as bad. But there are plenty of ways in which suffering in our lives is an expression of love. Childbirth. Doing chores so your spouse or parents can rest. Working hard at your job so that you can provide for your family. Talking with a friend late at night and helping them unload some of their emotional turmoil. Giving money to help a family in need, even if that means changing your plans to make funds available.
And God calls us into the culture of the Gospel. It is when we find the love in Christ's suffering that we come to understand both what the suffering means and what love is.
Dying to self is actually a good thing. It is a joyful, conscious choice to surrender our broken, misguided will to follow God's life-giving and love-filled will. It is where we meet Jesus.
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matthew 16:25 ESV).
Again, I'm praying that you will find your life in Him.