Light Afflictions

Suffering into wholeness

I didn’t think my life will turn out this way at age 30. I have a good job, a beautiful home, few great friendships and a thriving recovery community. It almost appear that age 30 I have it figured but most days I don’t and that feeling comes to only remind me of that saying “there’s much more to the story”. Last year September found me walking on this path of this unforeseen suffering that still sometimes strangely makes my heartaches seem like  a chronic predicament. 

There have been experiences of relational transitions, transition of my faith in God, transition of my vision and purpose and through it all, it appears this has also been the season I am getting a grip of life and the comfort that  comes with the  presence of God. God is close to them that are crushed and broken in spirit. Isaiah 54:6-8

I was doing my usual Saturday routine cleaning yesterday morning when I found myself thinking about the phrase “Light afflictions” and I quickly googled to check the entire verse of that scripture in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 because I believed it was coming to me in such a time as that for a reason I suppose. 

Then I was later led to read Philipians 3:10 that spoke again about Suffering. For once I was stunned by the word Fellowship and suffering. It is no wonder that it is apostle Paul who gets to marry these two words together in a way that make us pause to breathe into this powerful mystery of union between suffering and fellowship for a while before continuing.

Paul writes to The church in Philippi. “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death”

Not only does Paul marry suffering to fellowship- but he marries power to resurrection and comfortability to death.

It is no wonder that it is apostle Paul who gets to marry these two words together in a way that make us pause to breathe into this powerful mystery of union between suffering and fellowship for a while before continuing.

These words in isolation almost seem like they are antonyms and yet through the inspiration of the spirit Paul draws our minds to how suffering and fellowship as well as comforbility and death can be integrated into our walk of knowing Jesus. 

I believe Paul of all people have every right to encourage believers about suffering not only because he had his fair share of suffering but because he previously inflicted suffering on the body of Christ before his conversion. Paul is someone who was familiar with suffering in both giving and receiving  and it isn’t surprising to see him reveal to the philipian church the mistery of suffering, which he describes in his prolific letter as a birthplace of fellowship. 

It’s easy for the average Christian to consider suffering to be things reserved some people alone, like missionaries in Christian forbidden countries, couples with special needs and the many things we consider as suffering in our own suffering book of records and lose sight of sufferings embedded in our every day ordinary lives as we navigate through breakups , a miscarriage, a deadly medical diagnosis, a friendship breakup, a bad choice, losing a job, family toxicity and the many things that bring chaos and rob us of wholeness and the peace that comes with it.

When Paul encouraged the Corinthian church about light afflictions, He was literally writing to them about the most common and familiar tribulations the church of Christ was facing at that time ; imprisonment, stoning, crucifixion, been thrown into the dungeon, sword piercing, been fed to lions and decapitation in many cases which most of us may be unlikely to face in our Christian walk with God this modern times.

The purpose is not to compare suffering but so that one can not escape pausing for a while to reflect on how their ordinary life can be a call to suffer in the modern times is different to that of the early church and still finding great relevance in that scripture for their own different kind of unique suffering.

It almost appear that suffering is the last virtue the modern day believer will embrace because somehow our pulpits are filled with sermons that almost always attributes any little encounter with suffering as plights solely from the enemy.

Unfortunately today, It almost appear that suffering is the last virtue the modern day believer will embrace because somehow our pulpits are filled with sermons that almost always attributes any little encounter with suffering as plights solely from the enemy. Instead of encouraging believers to see the beauty in suffering and as an invitation to know Christ, we rather pray aimlessly against it and in the process we end up becoming frustrated because it wouldn’t go away and surely it may not because endurance hasn’t done its full work in us yet. James 1:2-4. Ans it needs to.

Is interesting to know how the Prophet Isaiah’s account of Jesus is deeply rooted in the aspect of his mission on earth that will bring great sorrow to him but great joy to us. It is again of no wonder that Jesus could reach out to people who were suffering all kinds of suffering with great empathy. The woman at the well with her many heartbreak stories, the woman with twelve years history of abnormal uterine bleeding, possibly caused by a deep seated submucosal fibroid, the blind man at the well, the divorce woman with compounding marital problems, the corrupt tax zacchaeus, the dead and buried Lazarus and even the wedding couple that run out of wine. 

These past few months have taught me about my own suffering which although hasn’t been physical but sometimes the emotional and mental sufferings of life can get the best part of our lives. And yet in all these moments, I have felt God’s love wrapped around me during sleepless nights, break down moments in my car while drawing at nights while I yearn deeply for human comfort and find none and all the silent moments where I lost words to describe the despair in my soul. 

In all these moments, I have been encouraged to turn my suffering to God- whether I knew it’s root causes or not. I am reminded to take rest in the words of the prophet Isaiah when he describe Jesus as the man acquainted with grief and sorrows. Isaiah 53:3

I am reminded that the Lord is nearer to the broken hearted and joy only comes in the morning just like there is glory at the end of life. I am reminded that all sufferings, whether great or small, whether terminal or transcient is momentary and its impact can never in any way compare to the weight of the glory that will be revealed. 

In this season of Easter, we are called to reflect not only on the work on Calvary that invites us into His saving Grace  but we are also invited to draw nearer the cross where Jesus asks us to suffer with him. If He bore our sins on the cross then ripping ourselves off every sin and weight is also enough suffering for the believer.

Earlier this year in my life, I felt on my occasions God inspiring and commanding me to reach out to people that have brought great emotional pain in my life and it really did take much willingness and obedience to follow through that instruction. I battled some few days as I kept on asking if I have heard right or wrong.

I was to let go of a debt that wouldn’t be recovered from people I have trusted with my money, be the one to extend a hand of reconciliation with people anyone will advice me to walk away from and move on with in life because of how they treated me, risking my own reputation and losing all power to hold anything against them and going extra mile to do favours that require me to alter my boundaries. I had felt like a fool in most of this instances- but May it be that I may consider myself one if it will draw me a little closer to having a heart like Christ.

I believe you also do have your own story of suffering, how God is shaping your heart to be like his. In fellowship, we become like the one we share with and as Christ invites us to share in his fellowship of suffering, He invites us to know Him.

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