“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death...”
~Philippians 3:10 (NRSV).
Anyone who’s truly suffered during a period of their lives—and has also leant fully on God within that tumult—knows this powerful truth of the Spirit.
Indeed, anyone who’s seen someone suffer, admirably taking up the chalice in a weird, transient joy, has probably known the envy one has in not feeling that powerful Presence of the risen Lord in and about them, as the one suffering does.
Suffering, and doing so, well, is tantamount to the untold Spiritual blessings of resurrection; growth is commended the soul that suffers—and willingly so unto God’s good will.
Living the Death of Jesus
The Apostle Paul proclaimed the valuable outcome of suffering in chapter four of Second Corinthians:
“We are... always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.” (vv. 8, 10)
Here suffering’s purpose is magnified; it assumes Divine worth.
The acceptance of hardship is for others’ blessing. Yet those of us who’ve experienced living this death of Jesus have not only redeemed hope and life for others—in Christ’s name—by it, but we’ve redeemed for ourselves the most acute blessing of intimacy with God.
Something happens when we willingly go along with the plan of God—according to the Lord’s will for us to suffer.
The Purpose of Suffering (One of Them At Least) Is Made Known
It might be impossible to detail all the known reasons for suffering; this alone is heartening, because we live for purpose. If suffering is to have a purpose, at least it’s for no waste.
This single purpose in sharpening focus, now, however, is the fact that suffering well—which is manifest in an unreasonable thankfulness and joyousness—is opening our minds and hearts to operating in ways we’ve never experienced before.
God’s Spirit is teaching us moral qualities such as compassion, fellowship, love and grace, all through the basis of faith which risks all for love.
These can’t be faked. Only people who mean them find them accessible.
This is why suffering is enviable—it’s because of the power laden in an individual soul’s softening; the turning to the broader purposes of God, despite the pain.
This, and This Alone, Is Life
There cannot be more life than the proximal experience of grief and loss that take us to the depth of human emotion—to the hallowed place of the Divine.
Death breeds life. The rock-bottom is the paradoxical gate-to-life.
It is little wonder that we can be jealous of others who are ‘hot for the Lord’ in their present vanquishing; we want such power.
But such power rests on the surrendered soul; one sanctified by their circumstances. We cannot have it unless God bequests it. Would we truly suffer so well?
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
Graphic Credit: couragenetwork.com.