Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday Service

We missed church tonight. I went shopping with the girls for Easter dresses (yes, I know this is last minute, this is how I shop) and we couldn't find anything, so it took forever because I had to drive all over the state of NJ. I thought I could cook quickly enough that we would be able to get out on time but I couldn't. I can't even blame it on blogging :-).

I wish I could have made it because I like to reflect on the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus. We always want to get to the good news of the empty tomb but I think it is important to think about Christ's suffering because it is at the cross that we are called to fellowship with Christ. Suffering is what a Christian does, it is a mark of who we are:

Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
We suffer in order to be glorified with Christ.

It has been granted, it comes from God:
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
Why are we surprised by suffering? Why does it come as a shock when God allows troubles to enter our life. We should know that our life is to be marked by suffering. And suffering does not just mean when bad things happen to you, it is also learning how to submit to the will of God at the expense of our will. It is the struggle to be obedient, when we don't want to. It means putting the needs of others before our own. It's doing the dishes when you don't want to. We think this is trivial and shouldn't be called suffering and when you compare it to cancer or the loss of a child we realize they are not the same degree but they are all suffering. You can get wet in both a drizzle and a storm.

But God does not leave us to suffer alone, He is our Father and our comforter:
2 Cor. 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
And as we are comforted by God in our suffering, we learn to comfort others. It can be very helpful to talk to someone who has miscarried, lost a child, suffered through cancer. And surprisingly it can be helpful to those who have experienced great loss to help others go through it as well. As God comforts us we can comfort others.

What makes our suffering bearable is that we know that it is not in vain. God uses our suffering to conform us to the image of God. We can rejoice knowing that it is for the glory of God:
Philippians 3:10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Colossians 1:24 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,

1 Peter 4:2 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

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