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…
Recently, our family moved from the city to the country and downsized significantly. In this process I’ve come to realize how entrenched in city life and in my life in the city I’ve been. If you would have asked me six months ago if I wanted to move closer to my church and give up my house in the process, I would have told you that I was praying in that direction. But now that it’s here, I’m painfully aware of a significant struggle in my heart. Wow…this hurts. I had no idea I loved my life there so much!
Part of this move had to do with my husband becoming an elder at our church and our being more involved with folks there. Both of us wanted that…but now that’s it’s actually come, I’m not so sure. Leave my home? Leave the convenience and activity of the city? Um…can I reconsider?
In his graciousness the Lord has been speaking to me about what I would be willing to sacrifice to provide a platform for my husband’s greater ministry to our church. I can see that He’s calling me into suffering so that Phil can be a greater blessing.
I’ve learned that what I’m going through is not just generic suffering or blessing. It’s filling up the sufferings of Christ. Not that Christ’s suffering is incomplete or that I’m atoning in any way for sin. But still, there is a call to suffering for the sake of blessing that I’ve been aware of and walking in for years. But I missed the holiness of this present suffering because of the ordinariness of it. Could it be that I am fulfilling the suffering of Christ when I pick up oak leaves off the kitchen floor or smell a chicken ranch instead of orange blossoms? Bringing blessing to our sweet country church means some tears for me in boringly mundane, seemingly insignificant ways. Could these sights and smells really fill up the holy sufferings of the Christ?
Now for the really good news: From the incarnation till the ascension, and in some ways, even now, Jesus suffered so that I could be blessed. But His life is not just an example of suffering. It’s also my righteousness in my suffering. In all the ways that I failed to respond to this suffering with rejoicing, I am still counted righteous in His sight. And not only that…Through His suffering He’s completed all the suffering that was lacking on my part, so that I could be blessed, so that I could be a blessing, so that ultimately I would know fullness of joy at His right hand and pleasures forever.
Here’s my encouragement: Don’t miss the fact that your suffering is meaningful simply because it’s mundane. And don’t miss the fact that in all the ways you do miss it and complain or feel sorry for yourself, remember that you’ve been given His righteous record.