“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.” vs. 18
Unlike many Christians of our day the early followers of Jesus expected that there would be suffering along the Way. That’s what had happened to Christ Jesus and there was no reason to expect that it wouldn’t also happen for them. It isn’t that they enjoyed the suffering or looked forward to it–it’s likely that even Paul would have preferred a life free from persecution and conflict. But when it came they didn’t whine or shrink from their calling. They knew that it was temporary, and that one day the glory of complete union with Christ would come. Because Paul embraced suffering, later disciples sometimes practiced self-abuse, even self-flagellation, so that they too could experience pain as they followed Jesus. Fortunately most of us have come to realize we don’t need to seek suffering as a part of the journey–there’ll be plenty that comes our way unbidden. And for most of us it’s relatively rare. Some faithful followers are gifted with pretty tranquil lives, not because they’ve avoided their call, but because that’s how life is. True suffering is random and doesn’t come equally to all. But when it comes, even if it hasn’t come to us, our call is to stand with those who do hurt and offer sweet comfort and peace. And in these troubled days we’re all having plenty of opportunities to do exactly that.
Thought for the Day: Where am I seeing suffering in these days?