…and if (we) are 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. Romans 8:16
The theology of suffering is an expansive topic but in today’s scripture, it is crystalized into something pretty simple.
- Jesus suffered.
- He told me that I I followed Him, I would suffer.
- And if I suffer with Him, I will one day be glorified with Him.
If I am only someone’s friend in fair weather, my love for them has not yet been tested. Let hard times come and my commitment to them will cost me my own comfort. To enter their pain, I will sacrifice things like time, money, and perhaps my need to have my theology of suffering tied up in neat little boxes. Questions about faith in God’s goodness and faithfulness will arise if I remain intimate with my friend.
The same is true in my relationship with Jesus. My willingness to associate with Him in adversity authenticates my discipleship. If I am only true to Him in good times, my love for Him has not yet been tested either. Am I willing to keep the cross at the center of my life, not only His cross but the cross He told me to pick up and carry when I became His disciple? If I only follow when things are going well, I should examine whether I follow at all. Jesus’ faithfulness to His Father, while suffering, proved His Sonship. My faithfulness to Jesus, in suffering, proves mine.
If my heart hardens in times of anguish, I have forgotten the significance of God’s overarching narrative in my own salvation. God, because of the curse, was a God who chose to redeem. To do that, there had to be suffering. As our High Priest, Jesus suffered. As one who is a member of His kingdom of priests, I must suffer to enter into God’s redemption story.
The heart of my Savior was laid bare on the cross. My heart is laid bare when I am sorely afflicted. When all was stripped away from Jesus, His love for me prevailed. When all my comforts are gone, my love for Him must prevail.
Oh, but I depend on Your grace to love You as You have loved me. Amen