– Charles Spurgeon
Sharing in His Sufferings
I would ask you this question as I have myself: Can we ever be like Christ without suffering like Christ? Naturally, we won’t ever suffer to His extent, but the question is, can we be more like Christ if we never suffer? The Bible seems to support the idea that suffering is never wasted. Paul wrote that just “as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Cor. 1:5), so Paul set as his goal to “know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil. 3:10).
When we are broken by afflictions, let it humble us before our God so that we draw close to Him. Maybe He is trying to remind us that He will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11) by trying to depend on ourselves too much. When we are not depending on God, we’re failing to glorify Him because He has already “blessed us with every spiritual blessing” we could possibly need or even imagine (Eph. 1:3)! Who really wants to rob Him of what is rightly His. If God feels distant to you and you’re broken by afflictions right now, the truth is “the LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). God wants us to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6), to know you can depend on Him.
Storms of Afflictions
There are a lot of reasons that God allows afflictions in our lives. These could be storms of perfection, storms of affection, storms of direction, or storms of reflection. We know that whatever has happened, is happening, or will happen will always work out for our best and according to God’s purpose (Rom. 8:28). It is a matter of truth. If affliction comes, then “examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test” (2 Cor. 13:5).
Being Used by God
Charles Spurgeon suffered intensely in his lifetime. For one thing, he was severely afflicted with gout, a condition that sometimes produces exceedingly great pain to the point of rendering someone helpless. And this gout seized his body from the age of 35 until his death. I love Charles Spurgeon because as he spent the latter part of his life suffering, that was the part of his life when God used him most powerfully. Isn’t it written somewhere that God cannot use a man greatly until he has wounded him deeply? Of course, the same applies to a woman of God. From Spurgeon’s memoirs, I believe what was worse than the gout was that he suffered deep and debilitating bouts of depression. It may have been due to the slander of his name among many of the English at that time, who spoke about him with utter contempt, and may have been why Spurgeon wavered between rejoicing in such persecution and being utterly crushed by it.
I would love for you to read more about the “Prince of Preachers,” who I believe was so effective because he suffered so much. Like Paul had his thorn in the flesh, Charles Spurgeon had his own of a different kind, but both served to keep them humble and utterly dependent upon God to keep going on. That is exactly what God is after in us. We can use our afflictions to be more Christ-like by sharing in His sufferings, we can learn to depend on God for everything, we can ask what God is wanting us to learn, and we can use these afflictions as a way to glorify God in doing what He would have us do.