For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 1 Peter 2:21 (NASB)
The call of the Christian is to follow Christ, to be Christ like, to be identified with Christ. It is inescapable that a part of that calling is painful and sorrowful.
While teaching a seminar recently on suffering I was once again reminded of the personal cost there is to the Believer to be a Christ-follower. Of course, it is nothing like the cost that was paid for our redemption but it is costly nonetheless.
I am reminded that God did not redeem (buy back) the sinner unto salvation for that person to live life as they please- to live life for themselves. We have been bought for a purpose and we have a mission ahead of us.
Some of us will have small tasks that appear insignificant in light of what others are asked to do. Keep in mind that any request made by the King is an important one! There are no unimportant servants in His kingdom! Others will be given large or important roles to play in advancing God’s earthly agenda. These people can plan to suffer much, for to whom much is given much is required.
The lessons learned in the classroom of suffering are what prepare us to be effective servants to our fellow man. These lessons are often very painful and break us down emotionally, physically, and spiritually. They take us to the deepest depths of sorrow and grief. Our sufferings remove our prideful self-sufficiency and teach us the truth- without Him I can do nothing, with Him all things are possible.
Some of our lessons reveal that we lack humility in the most basic things. We learn things about ourselves that are downright ugly. We see behind our stated motives and are given a glimpse at our prideful heart. We view with tremendous clarity the idols we have propped up to encourage ourselves and to “tell” us how good we (think we) really are. As God schools us, with open eyes and outstretched hands we once again realize that we are nothing but dust, we are nothing without Him.
The education of the servant of God brings with it sorrow and suffering because God must strip away the desire for all that we hold dear on earth. Our attachment to homes and cars, clothes and entertainment has to come to mean nothing or next to nothing when placed alongside our desire to serve Him with our lives. This is painful! Many of us have a love affair with stuff of this world that has caused our focus to change in yet another idolatrous manner. It is never easy to release things we hold tightly to and love. Yet, it is what we are asked to do…
Our purchase from sin and death was not for the things of this world or its pleasure; we have been purchased for His use and for His glory.