17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. Romans 8:17-18, NLT
I was driving home last night and listening to the radio. At a certain time, the station switched from music to message. I picked up in the middle somewhere and heard the pastor say, “No suffering is ever wasted.”
I wonder how many people hold onto the thought that if one suffers, they must have brought it on themselves somehow. I know I thought that. I know in my own suffering, I thought that there must have been something so vile in me to warrant it. I felt condemned and ashamed. It’s one thing to be hated for following Christ–the disciples lived that. But when (you are) hated by fellow Christians, it’s not because of Christ. It’s because of (you). Yeah, I’ll tell you: the enemy stood near and whispered shame and failure over me. Is being hated the same as suffering? I heard Brene Brown speak last year at the Global Leadership Summit, and she said, “There are two irreducible needs for every man, woman and child: love and belonging. In the absence of either, there is suffering.”
While I didn’t understand the reason for things that happened, the experience opened my eyes to suffering around me. A friend once explained how those walking wounded notice each other by their scars, and maybe they avoid each other because of them too.
I thought long last night about people I know who are fighting big battles. Health battles. Marriage battles. Work battles. Spiritual battles. I thought about the suffering of Christ on the cross. How is our suffering anything like what he endured?
He was mocked and ridiculed. He was attacked and wounded–by word and weapon. He hung on a cross–isolated and helpless (his friends and family unable to help, standing by and watching). He felt alone and forsaken.
Isn’t that suffering? We’re not Jesus. Our suffering does not save souls. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
What does it mean to share in Christ’s suffering? To be persecuted for the Gospel? Or could it be to be mocked, ridiculed, wounded, helpless, alone or forsaken?
I felt guilty for ever feeling like I suffered in heart–for something that seemed so insignificant in a broader picture, when there were people in harder fights–some for their very lives.
What does it mean to you to share in Christ’s suffering? How have you felt you’ve suffered? Did you ever feel like your suffering was wasted? How do you make peace with that? What would you say/do to someone who is suffering?