With Us in Suffering

When I think about my own personal sufferings I often become overwhelmed with sadness and grief, guilt and shame, fear and anxiety. I can easily provide a list of experiences, happenings, and occurrences, and with that list comes another list of reasons as to why life stinks or why my relationships with others or with God suffers. Recently, I found myself challenged and encouraged by our brother Paul. The apostle Paul, responsible to writing much of the New Testament, was a man whose life was completely changed by the gospel and thus he lived, from that moment forth, with incredible commitment and sacrifice to the Lord. He did so, not out of obligation or as some sort of repayment, but in obedience, love, and surrender to the God who redeemed him.

Paul shares with us that he could have confidence in his own human effort if anyone could, but did not fall short of noting how worthless all those things are when compared to knowing Christ.

“I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more…I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless compared to the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” Philippians 3:4-8 

He also shares with us a list of personal sufferings and even in that he chose to boast in his weakness in order to point to the grace, the mercy, and power of God in and through his life.

“…I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from my own people…If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that shown how weak I am”. 2 Corinthians 11:23-30

I am thankful for a God who is right here with me in suffering and who experienced suffering Himself. I am also thankful for a God who stands in victory and reminds me of the victory I have in Him. The one who redeemed me is worthy of all my praise and my life of commitment, sacrifice, and continual worship. This is true not out of obligation or some sort of repayment but from a heart of obedience, love, and surrender.

-Rushia


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