For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:21)
Pastor John’s Notes:
Jesus Christ willingly suffered for us. No one took his life from him, but he gave it up of his own free will. Before he was crucified, Jesus said that his followers must also take up their crosses and follow him and that anyone who seeks to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for the sake of Christ will find it. It would appear that the way forward into eternal life requires willful suffering. There is deep mystery here.
Typically, we spend much of our lives trying to avoid suffering. In most decisions, we take the road of least resistance. The more affluent our culture becomes, the line of what we consider to be suffering gets moved. We now consider it suffering when the checkout line is too long, our wifi goes down, or someone airs an opinion with which we disagree. With such sensitivity, it is easy for the enemy to direct us away from the course God has laid out for us. He only needs to set small obstacles in our way and we will turn back to avoiding suffering.
When we understand that suffering is a necessary part of our journey and become determined to face it, we can begin to grow spiritually. In fact, much of our growth is linked to suffering and hardship rather than pleasure. God will indeed bring us to good and pleasant places of rest, but these are typically offered as respites rather than residences. Instead, God sets before us many challenges and promises to be with us as we face them and we grow spiritually when we endure them and overcome.
Lord, help me to endure suffering and not turn away quickly. Let endurance fulfill its purpose, that I might become mature and complete, lacking nothing.