A Challenge for daily living
Pain, grief, rejection, failure – to some extent for all of us at some time. You have no suffering at the present time? Be thankful and give glory to God.
Suffering for the victorious Christian? Well, yes, it seems that it is an inevitable part of our refinement, to be conformed to His Image, and we are to identify with the sufferings of Jesus in order to participate in His glory.
It is in keeping with loving our neighbour that we also share in compassion with his sufferings, so yes, at the very least we are to remember the suffering church and be “in spirit” with those who suffer.
The suffering church has been with us always but it is now more obvious. Communist persecution in North Korea was kept as quiet as possible but Islamic persecutors deliberately use media to instil terror to the “Nations of the Cross”. We see and hear the final declarations of those about to be beheaded as they declare Jesus Christ as Lord.
And we live in this “tension” between suffering and glory. Glory to God for our blessings, our present (but eroding) freedom, every new day the glory of His creation in all that we see and experience – held in contrast with the sufferings of our neighbour here and elsewhere.
The vision of John holds this tension. Glory unimaginable contrasted with the sufferings of the Bride. The battle between the hosts of heaven and Satan and his demons contrasted with the ultimate victory of the Lamb and the renewed relationship of God dwelling among His people.
This tension between glory and suffering should undergird our everyday life, our work, our pleasure, our social contacts, and in every aspect of our ministries and meeting together.
Yes, go and enjoy the footy but as you do thank God for the freedom we have in this “lucky” country – and those who have sacrificed on our behalf to make it so – and remember those who do not have this freedom.
And in the comfort of your warm dry home be (also) thankful and remember those who do not have these luxuries we take so much for granted – here on our doorstep and in countries where such gifts are unknown.
And as we grizzle about long queues, rejoice in God, sing a praise song, recite that scripture you learnt yesterday and remember those who suffer and die simply because they own the name of Jesus.
Is it too heavy for our young children?
Yes and no depending on where we live and how close we are to terror.
At the least it should be in our “grace” as we give thanks for our food (and our many other blessings) and “remember those without”.
And for those who presently and continuously suffer in various ways – even if there is no “redemptive” power in that suffering (is there ever not?) – maybe, even in the midst of pain, we can identify with Christ’s suffering for us and remember others for whom suffering for Christ is also a part of their everyday life. Can it then be “transforming”?
I hope and pray that it may be.
Remember, we are the “Nations of the Cross” as we are so disparagingly called by the wave of Islamic persecutors. Let us then live as “people of the cross” as we – with joy – take up our cross for Him who died upon it and hold this glorious symbol high as our daily mark of office.
You want the references? Phil 3:10; 2 Cor 4:17; Ro 8:17; 1 Cor 12:26.