Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions.Colossians 1:24(NASB)
Suffering is part of our passage through life. Suffering, pain, and death is the stark reality of living in a sinful world and there is no-one exempt from suffering, for we live in a fallen world that is "lying in the power of the evil one."
Suffering is part of our passage through life, but when we willingly suffer for Christ (Who Himself suffered so that we might be forgiven of our sins and freed from the pain of eternal death to the joys of eternal life), it can become an opportunity for rejoicing, an opportunity to glorify His name.
When bound in chains in a Roman prison, the apostle Paul, was able to cry, "I rejoice in my sufferings," for he not only drew on the power of Christ's Resurrection, but was identified with his Saviour. Like Christ's other apostles, Paul could rejoice that he was worthy to suffer as a Christian, to suffer for the name of Jesus Christ, his Redeemer and Lord.
But Paul also rejoiced that he was able to suffer on behalf of other Christians. The hatred Saul of Tarsus for the Body of Christ (whom he had once persecuted), had been transformed into a deep love for Gentile believers by the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul was given sufficient grace to rejoice in his suffering, and this can be a reality in the lives of all believers.
But only when a man or woman has Christ at the centre and circumference of their lives can they discover joy in pain, and rejoice in their suffering. Paul himself reminded Timothy "that if we suffer, we shall also reign with him."
Let us be willing to rejoice in our sufferings from Christ Who has done so much for us. And may we have such an eternal perspective that we can really rejoice in our earthly sufferings, knowing it is for our good and for His glory.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I may keep the Lord Jesus at the centre of my life. Help me, not only to be willing to suffer in this world for Your name's sake, but also to rejoice that I am counted worthy to suffer on account of Christ, Whose death, burial, and Resurrection has saved my soul from eternal separation from You. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.