But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds, we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5 ESV
This past weekend I was blessed to attend a Women’s Conference. There were 495 women in attendance eager to grow in God’s grace, and many more listening online.
One of the Keynote Speakers spoke on “How to Endure Living in a Post Christian Culture.” As Canadian and American Citizens we do not have a “theology of suffering.”
The keynote address impacted those listening profoundly.
In God’s Word, we are called to share in the “sufferings of Christ.” In 1 Peter 4:13, it states, “But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
If I think back on the times in my life that involved suffering, I know one thing: I didn’t welcome it in my life. Yet God’s Word says we are not to shrink back, but that we will indeed “take part” in the suffering of Christ. If you do a google search, you can find more verses about this theme of taking part in the “sufferings of Christ.”
One thing is for certain, if we reflect on those hardships we have endured in our lives as Christians, those are usually the times when we have drawn closer to God and grown more deeply in faith as Christians. Which one of us as Christians does not value having a deeper faith?
As we look to our ultimate example of Jesus, as always, He models perfectly what we are to aim to imitate in our own lives. None of us can do this perfectly or even remotely so. Yet that is to be our goal, to imitate Christ. Jesus suffered on the cross and endured without hating those who mocked him and cursed him. Jesus asked God to forgive those who crucified Him, because they didn’t have a clue that they were doing God’s own will.
So often if someone offends us just a little, we like to return tit for tat. We retaliate with a vengeance. We subtly cut people off, ignore people, refuse to converse with certain people, and sometimes sneakily put them down to make ourselves feel better about ourselves.
Jesus has taught us a better way. He has modeled to us how to endure suffering. Jesus modelled what it means not to retaliate.
And Jesus modelled most of all what it means to give our lives to the God of our lives.
Jesus modelled suffering in a way that we will never come close to. He suffered well. He suffered silently, without retaliating.
Lately I have been confronted at every side with messages about “suffering for Christ.” We are in an age where we might be called to suffer for Christ more than those who came before us ever had to. The “Word of God” and the messages I have been listening to are instructional for a “Theology on Suffering.” We are not to fear suffering for Christ. Do we want to suffer? No one ever has, not even Jesus. Yet not my will be done but yours, Jesus said. Can we say the same?
At the Conference on Saturday, the keynote speaker asked, “What do you believe, and what would you die for?” That is a question we must all ruminate on. How much are we willing to suffer for the one who suffered unto death for us?
Let us think deeply about how Christ suffered for us on the cross of Golgotha. How Jesus endured the shame, the mocking, the desertion of those who claimed to love Him. May we be equipped to endure what God places on our path to endure. By God’s grace, we will endure with strength and dignity that only God can provide.
And may that make an impact for eternity in your life and mine?
Two resources on “The Theology of Suffering” for CHRIST.
Not a light read, but a life changing read.