Skip to main content

Does suffering serve any communal purpose?

Trials and afflictions have a levelling effect among believers. It has often been said that “the ground is level at the foot of the cross.” That is, regardless of our wealth or power or station in life, we are all alike in our need for a Saviour  In the same way, we are all alike subject to adversity. It strikes the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, the superior and the subordinate, all without distinction. In times of adversity we tend to set aside such notions of “vertical” relationships and relate to one another on a horizontal level as brothers and fellow sufferers. John could have rightly identified himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ, as one in a position of spiritual authority over the suffering believers in Asia. Instead he chose to identify himself as a brother and companion in their suffering. Trials and afflictions also have a mutual drawing effect among believers. They tend to break down barriers between us and dissolve any appearance of self-sufficiency we may have. We find our hearts warmed and drawn toward one another. We sometimes worship together with another person, pray together, and even serve together in the ministry without ever truly feeling a bond of fellowship. But then, in a strange way, adversity strikes us both. Immediately we sense a new bond of fellowship in Christ, the fellowship of suffering.
- Jerry Bridges
(Source: Trusting God)

This is wonderfully expressed. In the book, Jerry Bridges helpfully notes that St Paul praises God in an interesting fashion in his second letter to the Corinthians : "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God".  He observes the three-fold nature of God's comfort. First, God comforts us. Secondly, God comforts us in our troubles. And Finally, the purpose of our comfort is that we may comfort others. In other words our afflictions are not just for ourselves, but so that we may comfort others. We must never waster our suffering but must rightly recognise that part of the wonder of the Christian calling is that we have not only joined the fellowship of love and happiness but also the fellowship of suffering. We are to share our suffering as Christ has shared his suffering with us. In Jesus we are called to share the suffering of our Saviour by taking up the cross and denying ourselves. And so St Paul rightly says in his letter to the church of Colossae, "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". 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Man of Sorrows, King of Glory (A Review)

Jonty Rhodes is concerned that in much of evangelical teaching and life, the death of our Lord Jesus has become detached from the other events in his life. The result is that many Christians can explain how the death of Jesus saves us, but they cannot explain how other events in the life of Jesus, for example  his incarnation or ascension, saves us.   This dislocation of the cross from the rest of the life of Jesus is a problem because it cheapens our understanding of the saving work of Christ. Not only does it diminish our worship of Christ, it also means that we are not able to enjoy the joy and peace that comes from glorying in His saving work.    Rhodes wants us to have a renewed appreciation of the saving work of Christ by exploring how the life events display Christ ministering to us as our prophet, priest and King. He does this by exploring the key life events of Christ, as separated in two movements – the events related to his humiliation (from incarnation to burial) and the ev

Beneath the Cross

Beneath the cross, beneath the cross,   all together, in one sprit and one heart! Beneath the cross to live, beneath the cross to die, beneath the cross to face the judgment of the great day. And happy then to recognise in the One who will be our Judge the One who was our Savior! ADOLPHE MONOD

Jesus Never Fails

Many a times in my life, the words of this childhood hymn has been a tremendous encouragement. I pray this may encourage you too. Keep looking to Jesus! Jesus never fails, Jesus never fails The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails. Your mother will let you down Your father will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails. Your husband will let you down Your wife will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails Your brothers will let you down Your sisters-will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails Your church will let you down Your work will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails Your friends will let you down Your country will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails Your wealth will let you down Your health will let you down The man of the world