Someone has said, “Life is a series of mortar attacks.” That person is right–and Christians are not immune. The older we become, the more we realize God’s purposes for our sufferings.
Some have characterized Christianity as being a “fun” thing. Others have made Christianity a sure and certain route to financial prosperity and perfect health. Have some of us forgotten that we follow a leader who, in His earthly life, had “not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20) and, in cruel death, “was numbered with the transgressors” (Mark 15:28)?
If we would eliminate suffering from Christianity, we would eliminate the cross. When we eliminate the cross, we destroy the entire Christian movement.
Suffering is so bound up with living out our union with Christ that the Christian who does not understand will be unable to continue living the life of grace. Consequently, we must have some understanding of the biblical teachings about the place of suffering in the lives of believers.
Suffering Is Essential to Living Out Union With Christ
In several ways, suffering relates to our experience of living out our union with Christ.
Suffering Often Prepares Us for Receiving the Message of Grace
“For two weeks the Lord has been preparing me for this message.” The young man who spoke these words almost shouted them to the man who had just presented in a chapel service the message of our union with Christ. The young man–a professor at Southern Baptist College in the Philippines–went on to tell of the deep despair he had been experiencing in that two-week period of time. His case is typical.
When the Lord begins to use us in sharing the life of grace, we will discover that everyone is not ready to hear. In almost every case, it will be the “broken” person who has an open ear to the life-transforming message.
They, like us, have discovered that “doing our best for Jesus” just does not work. They, like us, have sown to (or because of) the flesh and have reaped corruption. They, like us, in a state of despair are ready to look again into the Word of God for answers for their failure and bewilderment. They, like us, know there is something more in the Christian life they must have.
It needs to be repeated that this … will likely be just another book in the hands of the person who has not come to the end of self. To a person, though, who has come to the end of self, the reading of this book could be the beginning of a new day and a new life. Brokenness through God-sent suffering is one of the essentials for living by grace.
[But Jesus answered them, saying, ‘The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:23-25]
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David Kuykendall, Our Oneness With Christ: A Study in Living by Grace Through Faith, Revised edition, ch. 16, David Kuykendall Ministries
Dallas, Texas Copyright 2006. Used with permission. Available as en e-book at http://livingbygrace.org/