Suffering will come to all the saints. Consider the verses in Philippians 3:8-10…
“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”
Paul said that he would gladly suffer the loss of all things to win Christ. This is in no way trying to earn acceptance with Christ. Paul is saying that he would gladly give all he had, all the accomplishments, and all that he was as a Hebrew (Phil’ 3 verse 5) to be unencumbered in knowing Christ (Phil. 3 verse 10). He makes it clear that he stands in the righteousness of Christ by faith (Phil. 3 verse 9). But verse 10 is telling us that those of us who know Him (Christ), and the power of His resurrection, will suffer. It says …”the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death”. We will be identified with Him in His sufferings. The suffering and death of Jesus Christ, He was completely surrendered to His Father at all times. He was doing the Father’s will, and did that with no thought to His own will, or the pain He would go through. In this …was His strength, courage, peace…and JOY. In Hebrews 12:1-2, it tells us…”looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” I Peter 5:10 says…”But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Jesus Christ, after ye have suffered a while, make you perfect (mature), establish (stabilizing grace), strengthen (strengthening grace), and settle you (settling grace, peaceful grace).” Because He is the God of all grace….His grace is sufficient (II Corinthians 12:9)…so He is sufficient. It is He who fills. The scriptures say…. “He satiates the soul”….of the weary and suffering soul with His Goodness (Jere.31:13b,14,25).
For those of you who are suffering, may He satiate your soul with His Goodness…He is always Good. He cannot be anything apart from Good. (The sovereignty of God does not always “feel” good, but He is always Good.) Believe in Him; Trust in Him; Rest in Him.
Here are some thoughts:
- Suffering will come as we seek to identify with Christ.
- Amy Carmichael said…referring to suffering and not knowing the answer as to why….”We are trusted by God with the unexplained.” Amy suffered much the last 20 years of her life.
- Seek the Lord now spiritually, so as to be able to have an attitude of gratitude when the time comes to suffer for Him. It will take time and discipline now…. to develop a life of praise and thanksgiving to Him in all things.
- When suffering comes, we will have to dig deeper….for deeper joy in Him. Remember…gold doesn’t lay on top of the ground; diamonds form from extreme pressure; a pearl starts as a grain of sand irritating…!!!!
- The Lord’s perspective is different from ours. He will not withhold from His child anything that will bring that child into greater sweet fellowship with Himself…even if it causes pain at times in the life of the child He loves deeply.
- As we suffer, the pain we experience here becomes part of the process of “letting loose” of the things of this life…”the things of earth become strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” (from the hymn… “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”)
- As we respond to others stories of grief, suffering, pain, or loss, be careful to be sensitive to their need at that time. Let them talk, listen carefully…but do not make it “your story” by telling about your time of suffering. Remember “it is not about you…” It is their time to grieve, weep, and need support. They need a friend to listen and support them.
- The “ministry of presence”: this is the ministry we have with the grieving/suffering… just to be there, and it is OK that we don’t have the answer. And most of the time we don’t have the answer, only the Lord does. JUST BE PRESENT…that is all they need.
- Just think ….this season of suffering may be your finest hour. What could be finer that becoming more like Christ Himself.