By Brooke Holt
“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, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” (Colossians 1:24-29)
Do you rejoice in suffering? As one who has experienced some very new and challenging circumstances over the past couple of months, I will answer this question with a resounding “no”! I hate suffering, probably much like you. Suffering exposes our lack of control in this world and leaves us vulnerable and needy. Because Paul was human like the rest of us, I would imagine he, too, felt what we feel in times of struggle and suffering. To understand some of his trials, read 2 Corinthians 11:16-23. If Paul truly understood and experienced these sufferings, how could he rejoice in them?
Before I embark upon this question, I want to say Paul would never call us to deny our pain. Denial brings no healing or true comfort from the Lord. Instead, Paul took an eternal perspective on his suffering. Yes, there was a plethora of pain in this world and the assurance of death. However, just beyond that suffering and death is the hope of glory. God’s glory is not temporal but eternal. There will be final freedom from all pain, suffering, tears, and even death itself. That hope of glory is the new heaven and the new earth where we will dwell in complete perfection, joy, and love.
You were made for glory. Every time your heart is broken in this world, it reminds you this world is not your home. We experience glimpses of glory here, but the fullness has yet to come. We can only rejoice here when we lift our eyes off ourselves, our pain, and our circumstances to see Jesus as we put our hope in the one truly in control with full glory.
Paul wrote to remind the Colossians (and you) that through Jesus Christ, they have this hope of glory living within them through the Holy Spirit. As David wrote in Psalm 30, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (verse 5). Not just joy but eternal joy with Jesus!
How can this hope of glory empower you to endure and even rejoice in your sufferings for today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Follow the ancient way of the Psalms and find the life God has for you. A model for vibrant worship, the Psalms provide practical wisdom to traverse the circuitous path of life with trust and hope. Pilgrim’s Path: A Study of the Psalms traces our spiritual walk with God—from discovery and delight, through doubt and disappointment, into joyful confidence. Whether used for individual or group study, Pilgrim’s Path is for everyone who seeks to know and love God more and find life in him.
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