Week 38 — Redemptive Suffering
"I wish to know Christ and the power flowing from His resurrection; likewise to know how to share in His sufferings by being formed into the pattern of His death." —Philippians 3:10
"I consider the sufferings of the present to be as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us." —Rm 8:18
Jesus: Paul prayed to know how to suffer according to the pattern of My death. You pray to get out of suffering. Have you ever prayed to get into it? I know many sufferings are useless. I will heal and remove that kind of suffering. However, suffering in the pattern of My death is precious and powerful.
Disciple: Jesus, I have been following this book for 38 weeks. You have revealed much to me. But I can't handle suffering.
Jesus: Lay down your life and take up your cross.
Suffer in the flesh, as Jesus did. "Therefore arm yourselves with His same mentality. He Who has suffered in the flesh has broken with sin" (1 Pt 4:1).
"Even now I find my joy in the suffering I endure for you. In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His body, the Church." —Col 1:24
Jesus: Suffering and joy are not contradictions. In fact, the more you accept My kind of suffering, the more joy you can receive (1 Pt 4:13). Your sufferings can be meaningful rather than useless. I left room for your sufferings in My plan of salvation.
Disciple: Jesus, I know I am an heir with You if only I suffer with You so as to be glorified (Rm 8:17).
Jesus: Will you pray for redemptive suffering?
Suffer for being a Christian (1 Pt 4:16).
"With the strength which comes from God bear your share of the hardship which the gospel entails." —2 Tm 1:8
Jesus: I want to heal you from useless suffering and for meaningful, redemptive suffering. Then you'll pray with Paul to share in My sufferings.
Disciple: Jesus, I'm contradicting myself. I say I believe what the Bible says about the redeeming power of suffering. Nevertheless, I won't pray for suffering, even using the words of the Bible. I'm afraid. Jesus, free me from this paralyzing fear.
Suffer for righteousness' sake (Mt 5:10).
"It is for His kingdom you suffer." —2 Thes 1:5
Jesus: When you get serious about building My kingdom, you'll be interested in praying for redemptive suffering. I work through this kind of suffering.
Disciple: Jesus, how do I know whether a suffering is good or bad?
Jesus: Is it in the pattern of My death? (Phil 3:10) And does it build the Church? (Col 1:24)
Suffer as a privilege (Phil 1:29).
"I tell you all this that in Me you may find peace. You will suffer in the world. But take courage! I have overcome the world." —Jn 16:33
Jesus: I told you there's joy in suffering. There's also peace in suffering or more precisely in Me. I will give you peace beyond understanding (Phil 4:7). Will you pray for suffering like Mine?
Disciple: Jesus, I don't even take up my daily cross (Lk 9:23), much less pray for any more suffering.
Suffer like Jesus.
"It was for this you were called, since Christ suffered for you in just this way and left you an example, to have you follow in His footsteps." —1 Pt 2:21
Jesus: We're not primarily talking about suffering but relationship. No one likes to suffer, but we do it to be with someone we love. Why does a wife sit at the bedside of a sick husband? To share in his sufferings.
Disciple: Jesus, I notice that Paul first prayed to know You personally and then to share in Your sufferings (Phil 3:10). May my relationship with You be deep and more personal so I would want to share with You in everything, even in suffering.
Suffer for Jesus.
"When a man can suffer injustice and endure hardship through his awareness of God's presence, this is the work of grace in him." —1 Pt 2:19
Jesus: Calvary for you is not a hill in the Middle East. Calvary will probably be at home and work. There you will suffer redemptively. There you will be persecuted. The agony in the garden will come in a parking lot or the backyard. The crucifixion will be at the office, living room, or bedroom.
Disciple: Jesus, I pray to suffer in the pattern of Your death. Thank You for giving me the grace to make this act of faith. Thank You for the sufferings of Your life, a 33-year Calvary.
Suffer at work because you are not ashamed of Jesus.
Excerpts from Scripture are taken from The New American Bible, copyright 1970 by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C., and are used by permission of the copyright holder. All rights reserved.
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert J. Buschmiller, July 13, 1995.
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati, July 25, 1995.
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