Paul knew Christ, but he wanted to know Him more intimately. He longed to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. He said,
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. (Philippians 3:10)
Sharing His sufferings—what does that mean? What were Christ’s sufferings?
Jesus’ Sufferings: Deeper than Physical Pain
The movie, “The Passion,” is known for the bloody portrait of Jesus’ going to the cross. I believe the horrible physical torture Christ went through was minor compared to His heart sufferings. The real agony was in the rejection.
Jesus loved more than any human could ever love, yet He was rejected and denied by family and friends. Being rejected and misunderstood can hurt deeper than any physical sufferings.
Hurt People Hurt People
This week I was hurt deeply, and as a result I hurt someone in my family. I
“walked in the flesh” and said things I regret that can’t be taken back. Apologizing was not only useless, it made things much worse.
We are human, with frailties and periods of suffering. Friends and family should be our comfort, but because of their own weaknesses and failures, they can be the source of our pain as well.
The only thing holding me together in this valley is hope. I know hardships can be teaching tools that God can use, and He promises to give us the encouragement and strength to work through them.
Facing the difficulties and pain of a valley experience can help us to mature spiritually. It doesn’t feel beneficial when we’re experiencing the pain, but if we allow it, we can make discoveries about ourselves and come through the pain stronger.
We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians during unjust imprisonment. But even though Paul is suffering, he never complains or blames others for his situation. Instead, he rejoiced.
I haven’t’ rejoiced in this pain—I’ve wallowed in self-pity. But I know God can work through my weakness.
When our life is shaken,we learn what forms our faith. We have the opportunity to learn real dependence upon God as a result. When we rely on Him, He will heal our wounds and let us experience renewed intimacy that will sustain us through the valley.
I haven’t experienced peace in this situation yet; I’m still in the depths of pain. But I am asking the Lord:
1. What is your will in this?
2. What do you want me to do next?
I’m waiting on Him. He has a plan and purpose.
Whether you are in immediate pain or not, the Holy Spirit is available to us. The Holy Spirit is the our strength, encouragement, and constant companion.
Friends and family may reject, criticize, or hurt us in some ways, but God will never forsake His children.
Nobody else understands our need the way God does. When we feel unable to bear one more second of pain we can turn to God, our healing balm.
Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you.
It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at.
We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.
What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best! (2 Corinthians 4:6–12, The Message Bible)
When life is crumbling and the future looks dim embrace God’s presence. Because of Him, we are never apart from the Lord. No circumstance, suffering, or loss can separate us from Him or His love (Rom. 8:35, 38-39).
Do you have a suffering story to share?