– Paul Chappell
Sharing in Christ
The Apostle Paul actually saw suffering for Christ with knowing Christ better, and isn’t that a worthy goal? Paul’s deep desire was “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil 3:10). We’ll never be nailed to a cross and suffer like Christ did, but we can share in His sufferings with the intent of “becoming like him in his death” by dying to self and being a new creation in Christ (2nd Cor 5:17). A lot of people want to walk where Jesus walked in Judea; few want to share in the sufferings He suffered.
Blessed from Persecution
Jesus reminded His disciples (and us) that “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18) so “you will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Matt 10:22a), but “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:10). And “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt 5:11-12). That’s great company to be in!
Be Humble or Be Humbled
God resists the proud and gives His grace only to the humble, but if we’re not humble, God might have to do it for us, so which do you think is more painful; humbling ourselves or God doing it for us? You know. God shouldn’t have to humble us, but He does in His perfect love in trying to draw us close to Him. He seeks an intimate relationship with us, but if we get full of ourselves, then He’s directly opposed to us (James 4:6).
Bearing Other’s Burdens
We are often called by God to bear one another’s burdens, just as we’re to rejoice with them when something great happens to them. The Apostle Paul reminds the church in Galatia to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). It is God “who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2nd Cor 1:4), so we are to give comfort to others and bear one another’s burdens because God comforted us and carried our burdens.
It’s actually God’s will for us to suffer for doing good, otherwise He wouldn’t have inspired the Apostle Peter to write, “if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God” (1st Pet 2:20), because “it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (1st Pet 3:17). Clearly, Peter says suffering for good is God’s will.
It’s important to understand that in the Christian life, even in the midst of suffering, God’s will is being done (Rom8:28). God never wastes suffering and has a purpose for everything that happens to us. Suffering might help us to know Christ better; in suffering we might receive a blessing; in suffering we might be humbled before God; in suffering we might bear other’s burdens and comfort others; and that suffering is actually God’s will, especially when you suffer for doing good. Jesus was perfect and still suffered. We are imperfect, but He is trying to perfect us through suffering.