to experience His Glory, we must be willing to share in His suffering.
— A.R. Bernard
This was the challenge by Pastor Mann at the Men’s Huddle a week ago. I love fellowship with other believers. If it were not for His Church pointing me to the hope I now have in Christ, I know that I would be in a very different place now. However, some social and traditional doctrines seep into the Body, at least that I absorbed in the Church community I was raised in, that are frankly anti-Biblical. Our response to suffering is one of the greatest of these.
How often when you pray in a Sunday School class or House Church meeting, do you share prayer requests focusing on “safety,” “health,” or any other form of suffering? I do all the time, and I do think there is a significant place for that. God cares for the hurting. God is love. (I John 4:8)
However, the life of a Christian is by NO MEANS meant to be an easy path. Just take a look, as an example, at the lives of Paul (Acts 9:16), Job (Job 1:13-19), and Jesus himself (Mark 15:16-20). Furthermore, after seeing martyrs and those suffering for Christ all over the world, it is pretty clear that the life of one devoted to Christ is definitely not comfortable.
I just want to challenge myself and anyone else who stumbles upon these thoughts to alter our way of thinking. When suffering comes, the response, I believe, should be far less on praying for and planning an escape from the pain, but rather recognizing it as a growing experience and intentionally utilizing it to expand our faith in the only One who can carry us through. (James 1:2-4)
We are called to suffer. We in fact, like Christ, should choose to suffer. (Luke 9:23-24) (Hebrews 12:2) But in that suffering, we have Hope. (John 16:33) (Romans 8:16-18)