“For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ” (II Corinthians 1:5).
Frequently we sense our need of God’s help. We find ourselves weak, failing, unable to meet our needs. These are the times we gladly appropriate the promise of help from Heaven.
But what does this passage also say? That the sufferings of Christ are ours also? From a human perspective, no one would willingly choose sufferings, certainly not the kind and not to the extent that Christ suffered. Every aspect of our beings insists that we avoid any unnecessary unpleasantness.
God, however, has a different outlook on the matter of suffering. He chose suffering for Himself. He chose to be separated from a beloved part of Himself. He chose an earthly life of lowliness, and loneliness, and pain, and eventual treachery and execution. God did not shield Himself from unpleasantness and then offer to help us when we go through trials. Every kind of hardship, Christ has endured; the full cup of bitterness, He has drunk. Now, fully equipped to understand us, He offers to share His own consolation and help. We run to His side for comfort!
But the first part of the verse is still there—speaking of sharing Jesus’ sufferings as well as His comfort. Can we choose to stand beside Jesus, bent and bowed low in the dregs of life? Will we gladly say “Yes” to whatever hardship and pain the world deals to us? Indeed, wemust accept suffering as part of the good that God gives us—part of His type of life. Suffering should not fill us with anger and questions about God’s love, for it offers an opportunity to share in Christ’s very life! In the full “life abundant” for which we yearn, help and suffering are packaged together. “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). KLB