Fellowship in Suffering
Six of my close friends are battling cancer, in various stages, at the moment. And so are many of my friends' friends and loved ones. To some, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and medication are options. To the rest, none is left.
But they are walking on a common road, treading on the anguish of physical, financial, and psychological pain every day.
So we suffer with them, spending much of our prayer time on their distress. In our prayer groups, we reach out with compassion and have entered into the fellowship of their suffering.
While this is right, Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians (1:24 NLT), “I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church.” Meaning, we should try not to become consumed by our own hurts, and the hurts of our suffering loved ones; we need to find time to think and share in Christ's suffering.
When I was in Bacolod last week, my new friend, Glenda, shared with me her “secret” to inner peace: “Each time my mind is in turmoil and my heart is in pain, I meditate on 1 Peter 4:13 (NLT), 'Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.'”
In suffering, we are actually in fellowship with Christ, who suffered so much more for our sake.
There are so many Christian books dealing with human hurts (depression, fear, rejection, crumbling of marriage, loneliness, single-parenting, etc.), helping us how to cope. Yet so little is written about sharing in the sufferings of the Lord.
As human beings, we need all the help we can get, but we desperately need to pray with Paul and Peter that we may understand Christ's sufferings.
“May His grace help us get our eyes off ourselves and our own hurts, and remember that when we suffer, we fellowship with our Savior,” Glenda reminded me.