Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Pet. 4:12-13
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Rom 5:3-5
Dear Lord Jesus, this portion of your Word comes like a kiss from heaven; a balm from the throne room of grace; a relief that no man-made elixir could offer. To know that suffering is a normal part of the Christian life actually brings a great deal of relief. For many of us have endured the destructive power of bad theology—various teachings that make Christians feel like spiritual pygmies for suffering any degree of illness, lack, loss, defeat, doubt, economic struggle, emotional duress, and the list goes on. But you tell us painful trials and suffering are not strange at all.
It’s not that I want to suffer more, and I know I can suffer much simply from my own foolishness. But no one wants to suffer in vain or with a sense of being a disappointment to you, or feeling abandoned by you, or being punished by you. The gospel tells us your love for us in unwavering, but pain is an accomplished and effective liar.
Jesus, please help us understand how our suffering can be understood as participating in your sufferings. Your death on the cross was a once-and-for-all suffering—perfectly securing the salvation of your people. However, you’re not a distant, disconnected, dispassionate Savior. You are presently making all things new, and this involves showing up in the messes and madness of life.
Where there is injustice, disease, brokenness, and suffering, you are right there. How do we join you there, joyfully and enter into the costly and redemptive fellowship of the suffering? (Phil. 3:10) Grant us grace for this calling, Lord.
A Day of no more suffering is coming (Rev. 21:1-5)—the day when your glory will be fully revealed—and what a day of rejoicing that will be. Until then, give us all the sufficient, sustaining, serving grace we need now to suffer with you and for you. So very Amen we pray, in your wonderful and merciful name.