What is your instinctive reaction when I say to you “rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ”? I’m sure some of you would think I’m crazy, others may feel that this is some sort of an insult and many will feel that there is just no way that God could expect us to rejoice in suffering, surely Jesus suffered for us so we could enjoy the good life?
Well I’m not the one saying that to you, but the apostle Peter is. Peter says that we must not be surprised by suffering but rejoice in it because it means we are sharing in Christ’s suffering and we will be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.
So what are we to make of this? M Scott Peck in his book The Road Less Travelled makes the statement that life is difficult. Life brings us problems and suffering. This is a reality of the fallen world we live in. Yet we seem to have this innate fear and all out avoidance to anything difficult. The Bible does not promise a pain free life, but it does promise us victory and eternal life. If we were to embrace the difficult, embrace the problems, embrace the suffering and allow God to work in those places and in us I believe that we could be able to rejoice when we participate in the sufferings of Christ.
The reason for our rejoicing is that we know Jesus is on the throne and that we are never alone and that God works all things together for good. As Christians we are not exempted from difficulties but we are assured of God’s presence and the hope in the ultimate victory and that gives us a reason to rejoice even in the midst of pain!