"Joy of suffering"

In The Call to Joy and Pain, Ajith Fernando writes: "Ministry in Sri Lanka can be quite frustrating. We work hard at planning an event and find that a curfew is announced just before the event is held. . . . Sometimes this frustration becomes so hard to bear that [the workers] leave the country, saying they cannot do the work they are called to do because of the prevailing situations. . . . They are unable to make themselves vulnerable to feelings of frustration and pain. So they leave the situation." Pain avoidance. That's an instinctive reaction for all us. So is Paul being masochistic when he says, " I am glad when I suffer"? (Colossians 1:24). Definitely not. Paul is not advocating that we should seek pain and suffering. Rather, he recognizes that the way of the cross, following Jesus, includes hardships, and that "here on earth [we] will have many trials and sorrows" (John 16:33).

Paul rejoiced that he could participate in the sufferings of Christ and also that he could suffer for the sake of the church. Bible commentator Peter O'Brien points out that experiencing the power of Christ's resurrection and sharing in His sufferings are aspects of knowing Jesus. If we desire to experience greater intimacy with Christ, and we know that suffering will deepen our intimacy, then the effects of our hardships will lose their sting. And when we realize that Jesus is using our sufferings to build and purify His church, we'll see beyond the temporary and gaze upon the final victory.

With these perspectives in place, we can "tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us" (Colossians 1:28). Let's "work and struggle . . . depending on Christ's mighty power that works within [us]" (v.29). , Poh Fang Chia, Our Daily Journey

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