Knowing Him through suffering.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…
Philippians 3:8 NIV (1984 edition)
A way of pain.
When He captures your heart and you choose His Way, sharing in His sufferings is just part of the deal. He says no one can follow Him unless they deny self. And there’s no two ways about it. Denying self — dying to self — involves suffering.
His Way shines light in dark places. Which sounds great, until He shines light in your dark places. Suffering begins with our own souls… the pain of conviction… the humility of coming into agreement with Him about sin… brokenness… unrighteousness…
Embracing our wrongness for His Rightness is pain-full!
An unwavering way.
Experiencing the power of His resurrection — beginning eternal life NOW — takes uncompromising faith. A faith to trust where He leads when it means loss of self: self-image, self-righteousness. self-esteem. self-gratification. self-identity.
We forge ahead when the flesh cries: NO!
Face fear head-on when He calls us to shine light into the dark places where we live. Fear of rejection. condemnation. judgment. criticism. They loom large in the shadows. It’s hard to shine light in a world devoted to darkness.
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
John 3:19 ESV
It’s the reason Christ ended up crucified. He had the audacity to shine light and truth into His church where they believed they held a monopoly on light. Blind to their own darkness, they killed the One who was Light.
If you are going to walk in the way of Jesus, you must know that you are to enter darkness that desperately needs light.Erwin Raphael McManus, The Way of the Warrior
A personal way.
So how in the world do we expect to avoid suffering if we are to walk His path? follow His Way?
I remember as a young adult (late teens, early twenties), listening to another about my age profess how great it was to follow Jesus! All I could think of was exactly where His path led: to a cross. an extremely pain-full death. No, thank you very much. I don’t think I’ll follow Him.
Fast forward fifteen-plus years to a time of personal suffering. My mom dying and the words she shared after praying with my brother: I trust. I trust. The witness of a suffering one finding peace in her Savior. That testimony stole my heart!
Sharing His suffering in death. yours. others. leads to a glimpse of the resurrection life. One devoid of death. One trusting Him in death. Because He’s defeated death for you.
Entering His path of suffering — denying self — serving only the Father by way of the Holy Spirit, empowers us to resist self-preservation, because we now see it as the Way of Love. Loving the Father first for the sake of others.
A way of connection.
Christ Jesus — Son of God — left every comfort, power, authority, and majesty to enter a world of pain. He chose to bear the burden of sin, the constraints of time, experience hunger, fatigue, temptation, and hurts, in order to re-connect with the ones who broke what He created.
What was “very good” we turned into a world of corruption. death. destruction. Yet He came — willingly! — and entered our pain. Suffered the worst possible death, so we might be free to connect with Him through the cross.
In suffering He identifies with us. What we suffer He suffered. Not just in theory, but in flesh and blood. What other god has ever done such a thing? Mankind could never imagine a being who would leave perfection and enter corruption for the sake of reaching out in love to the ones who rebelled and made a mess of their creation in the first place.
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV
The way of the cross. suffering. dying to self. is our connection to Christ.
He did it for us.
He calls us to do it for Him.
A way of love.
Sacrificial love: the love of fellowship.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 ESV
Fellowship with Jesus in His suffering is a way of love.
A love that insists there is no other way because there is NOTHING greater than fellowship with Christ.
The truth is, life is a way of suffering whether you follow Jesus or not. He said Himself, In this world you will have trouble. If life involves pain whatever way we go, we might as well walk with Him in fellowship. Following the One who through suffering defeated dis-ease, death, sorrow, guilt, shame, discomfort, and despair.
Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.
John 12:25–26 ESV
What are you afraid to suffer if you choose to follow Jesus? Why?
How do you avoid pain and suffering now? What or who is your savior?
What emotions rise when you face the truth that there is no way to escape pain and death in this broken world?
Might you consider today, walking His Way? let Him transform your pain to peace?