Friday, January 9, 2009

The Humility of Counting Suffering as a Friend

Heb 5:8
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered

We try to avoid it at all costs. It seems like the enemy. Christianity is even often offered as the way to escape it. But SUFFERING--those days, months, even years wherein circumstances, internal and external, make it seem like living is not at all worth it--is the heritage of the saints. We are called to suffer, to endure hardship, pain, and discomfort. But for what? Therein lies the rub. No growth in the Christian life ever occurs without it. As gold comes forth only after having been refined in the fire, so the brilliance of Christ's character shines through the blood-bought sinner only after seasons in the abyss.

But there is joy in the midst of suffering for the Christian. Christianity is filled with wonderful paradoxes, and this is just one of them. Imagine the mind-shattering prospect of God suffering in order to learn obedience. But that is what the Word of God tells us and it is real; and the creature and servant is by necessity unexempt. Relish Paul's words, and the joy spilling forth from them, as he presents his case for the glory of suffering:

2Co 12:9
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2Co 12:10
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake:, for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Be strong and take heart you who are weak, downtrodden, despised, and suffering--the underdog. You are in the good company of those who have chosen the narrow path to God's favor and delight.

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