Monday, December 14, 2009


Hebrews 5:8-9 "Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect..."

This is the second time now, in Hebrews, I've come across this idea of sanctification through suffering. It first came in Hebrews 2:10 (11-18), "For it was fitting that he [God] ... should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering." Even Jesus had to be made perfect through suffering. How much more do we have to suffer to be made perfect?! If we are to be like Jesus, then we must suffer. I guess this is what Paul understood and meant when he said, "that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:10-11). "That by any means possible" - wow, Paul was willing to do ANYTHING to attain resurrection from the dead!

I wish I had the same attitude. That would definitely make suffering more endurable, or I would look at it completely different - as gain, like Paul did, and not as loss, like I do.

And he explains in other verses, such as Philippians 1:29, "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake" and again in Philippians 3:8, "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ." In Philippians 1:29, Paul makes it sound like suffering for Christ is a gift counted along with faith. Incredible, suffering a gift! And in Philippians 3:7-11, Paul goes so far as to say that his gain - what he had not suffered - he thought of as loss. He willingly suffered the loss of things so that he could have Christ, only Christ. He gave up everything in which he could take pride! This really strikes a cord in me. I do not want to give up good things just to suffer. I want to hold tightly to the good I have - I do as if it were my life. But Oh to have Paul's and Jesus' humility and surrender, to let go of all I hold dear to free my hands to take hold of Christ, to let go of whatever good I perceive to take hold of the only thing I know to be truly good at all times - Jesus. He is always good, and though I may suffer the loss of many things, at least I can be sure that I would not suffer the loss of the most precious thing - Jesus.

There is so much more about suffering about which I could write. Like 1 Peter, that I recently read - the entire letter is about suffering and hope in the midst of suffering, or Jesus' own words on suffering, such as in Matthew 10:16-33. I have only scratched the surface.

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