Sharing in the Sufferings of Jesus
One Sunday morning I read these verses during my quiet time:
My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)
I was having a particularly bad morning. From the time I got out of bed until the moment I read these verses I had made the decision to stay home from church. I have osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia and on days like this one they both show themselves in a mighty way. Every fiber of my body hurt and I just wanted to sit in my chair and feel sorry for myself. Chronic pain, especially when no one else can see it, is difficult. People don’t always understand why you move slowly, why you have a handicapped parking permit, why you just want to be left alone. This was one of those days.
Then I read Paul’s words in his letter to Philippi. Has God ever smacked you right between the eyes? He has me and He did it again. Is it really my goal to know Jesus? Do I truly want to fellowship in His sufferings? That morning I was in pain but, compared to the pain Jesus suffered for me on the cross, it is nothing. However, I do believe that any suffering I experience in this world allows me a tiny taste of what Jesus experienced.
I don’t suffer by choice; He did. He chose to remain silent when being ridiculed and beaten. He chose to walk the road to Golgotha carrying a cross that was meant for me. He chose to lie there while nails that were meant for me were hammered into His hands and feet so that He could be hung on the cross He carried. He chose to allow the life to seep out of His body while those around Him hurled insults and accusations that should have been aimed at me. He did this for me.
I’m beginning to embrace the pain of this life. I don’t like it, but I do know that it causes me to draw closer to God. It encourages me to seek His face daily because without Him it is unbearable. If life was a bed of roses without the thorns why would I seek the only One who understands what I am going through? Jesus knows. Jesus cares. Jesus feels what I feel.
I found a renewed sense of thankfulness for the privilege of so easily getting in my car and driving a few miles to my church to sit in an air-conditioned building on soft pews with like-minded believers. If I had stayed home. I would have missed feeding on the Word and enjoying fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Pain is never fun, but it is a part of this fallen world. Thankfully I know the One who understands and identifies with my pain. He is also the only One who can provide just what I need at the exact moment I need it. Please, if you don’t know Jesus today, find someone who can introduce you to Him. You will never regret it.