The Gift of Suffering

It made Jesus perfect, but we don’t want it.
It taught Jesus obedience, but we avoid it.

St. Paul boasted in it, yet we are ashamed of it.
St. Peter told us to rejoice in it, yet we reject it.
St. James said to count it all joy, yet we complain about it.
St. Paul said to glory in it, yet we wallow in self-pity for it.

When we say we want to be like Jesus, do we really mean it?
Do we consider His sufferings when we say that?
Or is suffering the one area where we explicitly do NOT want to be like Christ?

The world consistently rejects every good gift from God:

  • Rejecting God’s gift of holiness, the world glorifies debauchery.
  • Rejecting God’s gift of a sound mind, the world glorifies drunkenness.
  • Rejecting God’s gift of children, the world glorifies birth control & abortion.
  • Rejecting God’s gift of marriage, the world glorifies fornication & homosexuality.
  • Rejecting God’s gift of purity, the world glorifies lust.
  • Rejecting God’s gift of humility, the world glorifies pride.
  • Rejecting God’s gift of suffering, the world glorifies sensuality, pleasure, and entertainment.

Why is it that we seem to think the avoidance of suffering is one place where the world’s mindset is compatible with Christianity? When the world avoids holiness, sobriety, children, marriage, purity, and humility, we take our cues to run in the opposite direction. Yet when the world endeavors to avoid suffering at all costs, we suddenly conclude that Jesus and the world have common goals and a common direction. This is foolishness.

We need a realistic perspective . . .

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
(Hebrews 2:9-10)

though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Hebrews 5:8-9)

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
(James 1:2)

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
(Romans 5:3-5)

According to these passages from Holy Scripture:

  • Jesus was perfected by suffering.
  • St. Peter rejoiced in suffering.
  • St. James counted suffering as joy.
  • St. Paul boasted and gloried in suffering.

These holy men recognized suffering as a gift from God.

Meanwhile, we avoid suffering at all costs. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, we complain about the manna which God has graciously given us from heaven, and we pine away for the cucumbers and onions from Egypt.

The time has come for us to put away worldly thinking, and to share in the
mind of Christ.

If God has a gift for me, then I want to receive it, and to gladly welcome it into
my life.

Even when it is the gift of suffering.

About Dn Joseph Gleason

I am a contributor to On Behalf of All, a simple blog about Orthodox Christianity, theology, and philosophy, written from the diaspora of North America. I am also the Deacon of Christ the King Orthodox Church in Omaha, Illinois, and am blessed with seven children and one lovely wife.
This entry was posted in 1 Peter 4:12-13, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Hebrews 2:9-10, Hebrews 5:8, James 1:2, Numbers 11:4-6, Orthodox Homilies, Romans 5:3-5. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Gift of Suffering

  1. Rose Mugford says:

    Thank you. It does seem that we worship those that appear to have a blessed life thinking God must be with them and not us. Thank you for your biblical reminder . Blessed holy week !

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