#DailyDevotion Do The Unexpected, Rejoice In Suffering
Col 1:24-25 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, (25) of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, .
Now that’s something you don’t see much in church today, someone rejoicing in their sufferings for the sake of the church, much less any other sufferings. I will get back to rejoicing in a second but I must address this, “I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,…” Now we know that Christ’s work upon the cross is sufficient for our salvation. He pronounced the word upon the cross, “It is complete.” There is nothing left for us to do to merit or earn our salvation. Yet, it word of Christ must still go out. His salvation must be proclaimed to all the world. In the process of that proclamation Jesus has told us, “Pick up your cross and follow me.” Just as a cross was laid upon our Lord Jesus Christ, so too, his disciples will have a cross laid upon them, particularly as they witness to Jesus’ perfect salvation.
Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians that we must suffer with Christ. We participate in his sufferings. As we participate in his sufferings we too will participate in his comfort, to be able to share his comfort with those who are suffering with Christ. Now Paul particularly here is reminding the saints in Collosae of the sufferings he is enduring for the Church. The Lord had told pastor Ananias concerning Saul, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.” So we was going to suffer much for the name of Jesus as he preached Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Now concerning rejoicing, Paul tells us, Rom 5:3-5 “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, (4) and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, (5) 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.” We all want to escape from suffering and endure less of it. But that is the way of the flesh. Our sinful flesh hates suffering. It recognizes the suffering it endures portends its end. As saints of God and Christ we, in our inward man, knows God is working through our suffering to produce in us endurance, character and hope. We know through our suffering our Father is preparing us to bear the weight of eternal glory. (2 Cor. 4:17)
Peter also witnesses to this here, 1Pe 1:6-7 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, (7) so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Again he says, 1Pe 4:12-14 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (13) But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (14) If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”
So we will bear the cross with rejoicing that is laid upon us. We know our Father in heaven has not abandoned us when suffering but is drawing closer to us conforming us into the image of his son. He is purifying our faith. He is using our suffering to witness to the suffering of his son Jesus Christ for our salvation and the salvation of the world. Let us not then shun our suffering but instead thank God we are found worthy to suffering with and for Christ according to his glorious plan and purposes.
Heavenly Father, grant us faith to see our sufferings not as your rejection of us but rather you drawing us closer to you, conforming us to the image and likeness of our savior Jesus Christ and as a witness to the world the sufferings of Jesus for their salvation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.