That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death (Philippians 3:10).
The third verse of the precious hymn, Deeper and Deeper, speaks of the suffering which the Christian will encounter if mature in Christ and effective in His service.
Into the cross of Jesus, deeper and deeper I go, Following through the garden, facing the dreaded foe Drinking the cup of sorrow, sobbing with broken heart; Oh, Savior, help! Dear Savior, help! Grace for my weakness impart.
But this suffering, while not welcome from a human perspective, still is not a thing to be avoided or refused. As our text explains, we are privileged to experience the fellowship of His sufferings. He did so willingly, but not without asking God to remove this cup [of sorrow] from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done (Luke 22:42). His suffering included betrayal and arrest and finally crucifixion, dying with a broken heart, but purchasing our eternal life with His death. By fellowshipping in His sufferings, we identify with His death, share His reproach, and follow His example. We, through His death, pass through death into a new life of victory over sin and death (I Peter 4:13).
Therefore, we accept and even welcome sufferings as a gift from God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29). Paul said, we ourselves glory in . . . all your persecutions and tribulations . . . that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God (II Thessalonians 1:4,5). Of course, suffering isnt easy, and we need our Saviors help and grace to endure (James 5:10,11). But If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him forever (II Timothy 2:12). May God grant us a deeper fellowship in the cross. JDM