2 Timothy 1:12 – For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
Paul, more than most, knew the sufferings of Christ. Jesus had brought Paul from being one of the chief persecutors of His church to one of the most persecuted for the gospel’s sake. Paul, who had been known as Saul, encountered the “Living Christ” on his way to put the Disciples of Christ in jail at Damascus (Acts 9:1-9). On the Damascus road, his life suddenly was interrupted by the King of the entire creation. The Lord Jesus Christ had only one question for Saul, “Why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4).
Acts 9:15 tells us that Jesus sent Ananias to Saul to give him instructions saying, “He is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Saul, whose name was changed to Paul, was appointed by Jesus to suffer for His name’s sake. Suffering is part of the normal Christian experience. We are called to make up what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ. “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (Colossians 1:24). Paul identifies with the sufferings of Christ to the point that he sees his sufferings as a member of Christ’s body.
When we suffer affliction for Christ’s sake we are partakers with Him in suffering. In eternity, our suffering will become part of His glory that is to be revealed. Paul said, “I rejoice in my sufferings.” Do we have an attitude of “rejoicing” when we suffer for Jesus? It is hard to imagine the sufferings that some believers have experienced for Christ’s sake. In contemporary Christianity there is still a great deal of suffering. Those believers that live under communism have suffered a great deal. Those in Islamic lands have unimaginable hardships because they are identified with Christ. I think of committed Christians seeking a University Education who are persecuted by the proponents of Secular Humanism.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). “Just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:5). When we go through sufferings, let us be reminded of all those who have suffered before us. I choose to trust in Christ when suffering, knowing it does not compare to the “glory” God has planned for us.
Thank You Father, for “abundant comfort” that You have promised through Christ, when we experience “abundant sufferings.” My hope is steadfast in You and all Your promises. I am not ashamed of all You have done on my behalf.