The Suffering of Christ

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Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,

if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:17

In many readings I’ve read and in discussions I have had with people, the subject of Christ’s suffering comes up. It is used to counter the belief that it is God’s will to heal all. I’ve heard people say that we are called to suffer with Christ and that the disease or ailment they have is the way they join with Christ in His suffering. These are sincere people who want God’s will in their lives but they see their suffering as something God called them to do.

I have a hard time with that. I believe we will suffer as Christ suffered if we are living as Christ lived; if we are disturbing our world the way He disturbed His. When I read through the New Testament though I don’t see Jesus suffering arthritis or chronic pain or allergies or cancer. Jesus suffered persecution, mocking, rejection, scorn and crucifixion. While many Christians around the world, may indeed suffer those things and we might also, our suffering diseases is not joining with Christ’s sufferings. I don’t see physical suffering as having a place in the kingdom of God, in heaven or in Jesus’ life. If suffering through a disease or chronic pain is something God wanted for us, then why did Jesus heal anyone?  And then say He was only doing what God told Him to do? And further tell us that if we have seen Jesus, we have seen our Father God? Why say and do any of that if it’s His will that we suffer with diseases and afflictions?

Can we honor God through our suffering a disease? Of course. Can He use our suffering for our good and His glory? Yes. But is that the same as suffering with Christ or for the sake of Christ? I don’t believe so. I am willing to enter into the sufferings Christ suffered, as God graces me to do so. I would love to rock my world the way Jesus rocked His and if I did, I could expect suffering and trust that God would see me through that. But I don’t believe that suffering would include physical afflictions.  And while I pray that God would use this suffering from arthritis and chronic pain for my good and His glory, I would not turn down healing. I believe I could do more for the kingdom of God if I were physically free from these pains.

Jesus, You showed us the compassion of our Father when You touched the infirmed and diseased and brought healing. You showed His heart of love when You healed the many and the all. Your word tells us You are the same, today, yesterday and forever. I believe it is Your will that I be free of this pain and I thank You for that. When I do experience suffering for Your sake, help me to remain faithful through it all, the way You did for me. I ask in Your glorious name. Amen.

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