So often when I view this verse, I get fired up about the first section on knowing Jesus and the power in His resurrection, but tend to be less than enthusiastic about the last part on sharing in His sufferings. That’s not something I want to aspire to. Do I hear a hearty “amen”?
What does it mean to share in His sufferings? I was journaling and reflecting on this the other day. Pam and I certainly have gone through a period of hardship, having lost our home in the Waldo Canyon Fire this summer. But is that sharing in the sufferings of Christ?
First, I believe that we share in the sufferings of Christ anytime we live sacrificially in a way that reflects the mind of Christ seen in Philippians 2:5-8.
Second, we also share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings anytime we receive our sufferings as being sovereignly controlled by our heavenly Father—as Jesus did. Jesus received the sufferings planned by the Father—which included His death on a cross. Pam and I are prayerfully receiving from the Father’s hands the challenges we face post-fire.
We believe God has purpose in them and that ultimately they are for our good. They are an instrument to help others who don’t yet know Him to see His light in our broken lives, and, finally, a way for Christ to receive honor and become more famous in all our hearts.
So, though we are not called to die on a cross or as a martyr, we can each share in the fellowship of His sufferings anytime we respond like Jesus did: Father, “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).