Yesterday, one of my patrons asked me why I was working as a parking lot attendant in spite of my education and life experiences…
My answer was: “Well, I think the Lord is trying to teach me some lessons.”
When Ananias was sent to Saul of Tarsus (Paul) to pray for him, the Lord told Ananias to tell Saul that Lord Jesus was going to “…show him how much he must suffer” for the sake of His name. (Acts 9:6)
While most religions seek to alleviate earthly sufferings via spiritual disciplines, Lord Jesus requires of His servants to carry their crosses and follow Him.
Rather than fostering spiritual escapisms, Lord Jesus taught His disciples to “endure suffering” as a spiritual discipline, in the knowledge that Christians all around the world are also suffering, and in some cases, even worse. (James 5:10-11; 1 Peter 5:9)
At least to me, there are 2 reasons why Lord Jesus expect His disciples to suffer:
1- Soteriological Contribution-
His disciples actively contribute to the immediate and ultimate salvation of themselves and others. (Col. 1:24) Nothing testifies greater than certainty of belief. To suffer injustice, discrimination and oppression for simply being a Christian makes us into Martyrs (Witnesses) to the truth of Lord Jesus and His Resurrection.
2. Learning Patience-
Romans 5:3-4 teaches that suffering produces patience and character, which in turn produces hope. Since the creation of our proto-parents, the human race has always sought to bypass the learning process in order to achieve existential divinity. If we are to be called Christ’s “friends,” then we should not just be content with his descending to humanity; we must put aside childish expectations and embrace Christ’s sufferings. (John 15:15)
God created us for “divinity,” but the Creator will not cheat us from the learning process.
There are many reasons why Christianity embraces suffering (the cross) as a means to reach the Father, but these seem to be the ones that always rise to the top.
God is teaching me many lessons on Faith, Hope and Love… but especially Love- and this, the divine love that can love even those who insist on being our enemies…