The paradox of this divine tutorial also includes afflictions of some kind. Because Elder Maxwell was such a faithful student of discipleship, I draw again from him: “The very act of choosing to be a disciple . . . can bring to us a certain special suffering,” because affliction and chastening are “a form of learning as it is administered at the hands of a loving Father.”47 He also said, “If we are serious about our discipleship, Jesus will eventually request each of us to do those very things which are most difficult for us to do.”48 And so, he said, “sometimes the best people . . . have the worst experiences . . . because they are the most ready to learn.”49
After Elder Maxwell learned he had the leukemia that eventually took his life, he said, “I should have seen it coming.” Why? Because ever since Okinawa he had wanted to become a fully consecrated follower of Jesus—no matter what the price. And the more he desired the gift of charity—to love as Christ loves—the more he sensed how dear the price might be. Christ’s love is so deep that He took upon Himself the sins and afflictions of all mankind. Only in that way could He both pay for our sins and empathize with us enough to truly succor us—that is, run to us—with so much empathy that we can have complete confidence that He fully understands our sorrows. So, to love as Christ loves means we will somehow taste suffering ourselves—for the love and the affliction are but two sides of the same coin. Only by experiencing both sides can we understand and love other people with a depth that even approaches Christ’s love.
A Disciple’s Journey, BRUCE C. HAFEN, BYU Devotional Address, 5 February 2008