Wednesday, 20 May 2015
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:5
There are numerous references to the sufferings of Christ in the Bible, and many of them are spoken of as being related directly to His disciples. In Colossians 1:24, Paul tells us that –
“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church…”
The church is destined for suffering, just as it is destined for glory. Paul understood this, and he felt that as much as he suffered there was an abounding of consolation to be found at the same time. Nothing was lacking in the process of suffering. And the consolation which he felt was the surety that he possessed the Spirit of God. In knowing this, he was thus comforted because the Spirit is a guarantee of future glory for the believer. Hence, he notes exactly this in Philippians 3:10 –
“…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
In “being conformed to His death” we shall also be raised as He was to eternal life through “the power of the resurrection.” There could be no shame in the suffering if there is the coming glory which that suffering leads to. Thus, there is the great consolation which “also abounds through Christ.” Understanding this, believers are not to be ashamed of suffering, but instead are instructed to be willing to bear His reproach, knowing that we bear all of the honor and future glory that comes with it. And so the author of Hebrews admonishes us –
“Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.” Hebrews 13:13
Life application: Even if we have never really suffered for the name of Christ, many in the world have. We cannot assume that just because the place where we live is a harbor of safety for Christians, that it won’t be attacked at some point. And therefore, we must always be ready to accept sufferings that may come our way, knowing that in them our consolation will also abound through Christ.
Heavenly Father, I sit at ease in this world, having never known true suffering for Christ. And yet, all around the world there are those who are facing torture and even death for the sake of His glorious name. Should those same persecutions come to my peaceful shores, I would ask for strength enough to hold fast to my faith and to be able to praise You through whatever trials I am set to endure. With this, I will be grateful. Amen.