Fellowship of sharing in His Sufferings
A reality in friendship and partnership with God that is not so exciting to think about but definitely very real, is suffering. All throughout the Scriptures we witness the lives of men and women who experienced deep friendship with God. When we examine their lives, we will find that most of them suffered. Intimacy with God is not a fairytale, but it is a love story! David, Daniel, Abel, Noah, most of the apostles, and many more: all of these suffered for the sake of Christ. Jesus himself suffered for us. He said, if they persecuted me they will persecute you.
It is important that we are aware of this reality, and that we count the cost. It was through these trials that the Lord prepared His people for mighty exploits, and great authority! Those who entrusted their lives to the Lord in the midst of their suffering, Were the ones who were entrusted with great authority and finished their race well. The Bible says about David that he fulfilled the purposes of God in his generation! (Acts 13:36). And that came with much suffering involved.
There is actually a fellowship in the sufferings of Jesus Christ! And the great news is that, just as there is fellowship in his suffering, there is also great fellowship in His joy that follows! I want to weep when the Lord weeps, I want to laugh when he laughs, and I know that when I suffer for his name, he weeps with me. “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, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10).
The good news does not promise that there will be no troubles, in fact Jesus tells his disciples to expect tribulation, but the good news does promise fellowship with God who will comfort us in our troubles and greatly reward us when we follow Him. He will give us the strength to face the trials and to have victory in the midst of them.
We don’t have to look for suffering in order to fellowship with Christ. I do not desire suffering, or look for it. But if we are going to take up our cross daily to follow Jesus we know that we will face it soon enough. When God called the Apostle Paul into the ministry he sent out Ananias with a prophetic word for him. Acts 9:15, “But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry My name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for My name.”
Hebrews 10:32, “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barack, Sampson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, Who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouth of lions, quenched if fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; who’s weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them!”
John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”