We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NLT, emphasis mine)
Of late, I’ve been thinking a lot about suffering. Because its through suffering that we share in the suffering of Christ. Often times we think that Jesus suffered, so that He could feel our pain. But really, it is quite the contrary. When we suffer, we get a small glimpse of what Jesus went through on earth.
But, here is my question. For those of us here in North America, where we have religious freedom, resources, money, where parents bring home substantial paychecks, where we are safe and secure, how do we suffer? Whether we want to admit it or not, we have a good life.
So then to “suffer”, what shall we do? Chances are we aren’t going to be persecuted overly for our faith here, so, what happens?
When a rich man came to Jesus and asked how to get into the kingdom of heaven, the conversation came down to this:
Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (Matthew 19:21-24 NLT)
So perhaps, one of the best ways to suffer here is too give up possessions or money, stuff that in reality, is probably hindering our relationship with God. But then my next question is this: What about things I’m gifted in, say in my case music, should I be selling my guitar, or my trombone, in order to “suffer.” Are these things becoming idols in my life?
I still don’t know. So the question remains, how will we suffer?