Life is hard and there are many things we must endure as we move toward the good God has for us. Like a good father, he does not spare us from the path of suffering necessary to refine our faith and prepare us for the fullness of his glory.
To be sure, there are many blessings and spiritual favors that come in our life with Christ. But sometimes we forget that partnering with him in life and glory means we must also partner with him in death and suffering.
His life was not a cakewalk. And as we seek to follow him and please God, ours will not be one either.
Of course, part of our suffering includes our fight to overcome the various habitual sins in our life. But our suffering is not always reduced to this sin management as we usually think about it.
For instance, the man born blind was not suffering because of his sins or that of his parents. But his suffering became an opportunity to reveal the power of God all the same.
And Paul’s thorn in the flesh was not directly connected to a struggle with sin, though it was given to keep him from becoming proud.
And certainly Christ did not suffer on the cross because of his own sins.
As much as we have to put to death the various sins in our life, the suffering here is more about self-sacrifice – a willingness to die to our creature comforts and how we would like life to go and submit to the greater purposes God is using us for.
This might mean engaging in difficult situations or relationships, or perhaps moving to a new city or changing jobs, not because we personally want to do this, but because this is how we do our part in advancing God’s kingdom in the world.
Whatever it looks like, we’re willing to suffer and sacrifice ourselves for the greater good God brings.
In the end, remember:
After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.