Friday, September 23, 2016

Why God’s Gospel Makes More Sense In Suffering

We never wish suffering on ourselves, but suffering will take us into the heartland of the gospel, and when we suffer enough, we’re taken into the inner sanctum of maturity.
On one condition: the response that pauses, reflects, and absorbs hurt, determined not to react, but to learn unknowable lessons which can only be learned by faith.
We must participate in Christ’s sufferings[1] if we’re to ever understand and truly embrace His gospel.  It doesn’t mean we don’t or won’t get His gospel if we haven’t yet suffered, but a promise remains for us in the prelude to suffering, as we participate like Christ.
We always underestimate what Jesus will call us into so far as participation is concerned.
Horrified are we to consider the standard fare: anything from having our dreams destroyed, crimes against or the loss of loved ones, death ourselves, false accusation, defamation.  And there are a million and more lesser sufferings that plague us either in potentiality or reality.
It may seem a sadistic compensation that to come closer to God and to understand His gospel much more requires us to suffer.  But think about Jesus for a moment.  He suffered.  His teaching centred on suffering well, by taking heart; He had overcome!  He suffered the ignominy of rejection from all quarters.  His death involved the most suffering any of us can imagine.
Would we be spared from some of this?  We’re spared from almost all of it!
But we’re still called to suffer, and to glory in our sufferings.[2]
And as we do glory in our sufferings, in the hope that there’s something good going on in the process, the gospel makes abundantly more sense.
The gospel is a break-glass reality, a construct for life when life is turned upside down.  It’s a way an upside down life can be turned right way up.  Then it becomes the only true and right way we can live.[3]
As we suffer, may we give in to the mystery of Christ who uttered not a word of reprisal.  In act of being executed.  Yet, when we do react, let’s forgive ourselves as Christ forgives us.  He is perfectly patient and kind and we’re nothing like perfect.
The gospel of God as it lives in us is a reality that becomes clearer the more we suffer.
Grace of the Lord to you,
Steve Wickham.

[1] See Philippians 3:10 and 1 Peter 4:13.
[2] See, for instance, Romans 5:3-5.
[3] See John 14:6.

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