Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. (Colossians 1:24)
We live in an culture where countless resources (time, talent, and money) are spent trying to escape suffering. Whether it be the pharmaceutical industry manufacturing drugs to relieve pain, the entertainment industry developing technology to relieve boredom, or the lottery and casino industries creating a false illusion of relief from financial hardships – we are constantly sold the idea that suffering (in all forms) is a terrible enemy to be avoided at all costs.
The Christian view of suffering runs counter to the world’s. Paul says he rejoices in his suffering. We don’t know everything that Paul suffered – but from what is revealed, we know that he suffered profoundly – physically, emotionally, relationally, even spiritually.
Yet, Paul saw purpose in his pain. He believed his personal suffering benefited his brothers and sisters in the church, strengthening the body of Christ. His willingness to choose the hard road of faith in spite of his suffering has been an inspiration to others throughout the ages who would likewise suffer much.
I think of the suffering a good friend is facing right now as she agonizes over the decision to choose the familiar, seemingly comfortable path of addiction or the long, arduous road of recovery. I pray for her, and her friends and family who are suffering with her and making choices themselves whether their support is investing in her recovery or contributing to her addiction.
I pray that the pain we are experiencing now would have purpose – that it would strengthen us individually as believers, draw us closer to the body of Christ, and lead us to a deeper relationship with God.
“A world of pain and love by Marco Piunti” from Nina Kassai in Pencil + Paper + Idea