“Then He said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things – and to enter into His glory?” [Lk.24:25-26]
“…we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God.” [Acts 14:22]
“For even hereunto were ye called because Christ also suffered for us – leaving us an example – that ye should follow His steps.” [1Pe.2:21]
Living in this fallen, sinful and cursed world can often be an experience that is a living enigma to the truly regenerated child of God. The above three texts manifest to us what our Lord, alone, can teach us about being a Christian and having to endure our pilgrimage through this world of affliction and trial. What He continually teaches us is that life in this world is, indeed – each and every step of the way — a journey of sovereign, super-abounding grace. As the old Fanny Crosby hymn says: “All the way my Savior leads me – cheers each winding path I tread. Gives me grace for every trial — feeds me with the Living Bread.”
Indeed, having to suffer tribulation and trials are a part of the very fabric of our calling! The Holy Spirit of Christ leads all His saved ones through the tribulation and trials of this age. He does not avoid them. He grants us the grace of His presence and strength to be able to get through it – not around it! Be encouraged, dear ones, there is an eternal and definite purpose in God’s leading us through the things that we suffer. Take for example what the apostle Paul was inspired to relate to us from 2Co.12 7-9> “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations – there was given to me a thorn in the flesh – the messenger of Satan to buffet me; lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me: My grace is sufficient for thee. For my strength is made perfect in weakness! Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Likewise is it truly the same in our earthly experiences.
The marvelous wonder of it all is that the suffering that the incarnated Christ came into our world and endured for us – as our sovereign Savior/substitute – He purposely did so unlike us – totally and completely without sin (all on our behalf)! He lived the perfectly holy life that we, because of our sinful nature and condition, could not even come close to being able to live. He lived perfectly holy in this fallen world in order to make all His redeemed ones as eternally perfectly holy as He is because we were loved, chosen and placed in Him before the foundation of this world! Yes, Praise the Lord, He eternally accomplished for us – and eternally applied to us – our eternal redemption and justification before holy God – and our eternal reconciliation with holy God. This is that which constitutes the grand news of the pure truth of the gospel of glory, only, of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, when we follow in His steps and we go through the afflictions of this age – we are not suffering for our sins. No – our Lord and Savior has already done that! All that is demanded and included as far as our sins are concerned – “Jesus paid it all! All to Him we owe!” When we go through affliction and suffering in this world – it is not punishment. It is for our chastening and disciplining and spiritual development. We are being developed by the Holy Spirit’s divine wisdom, direction and instruction. He, through the trials and troubles of this sinful, fallen world is continually making us more able and effective servants for His use. Hence, like Paul we too will come to glory in our earthly sufferings that the power of Christ may rest upon us.