Part 19 of 25
The Necessity of Suffering
“Glory” is a word that seems so amorphous and indescribable. In practical terms and for our purpose it actually means the inherent expression of a life. We can see the matter of glory as the inherent expression of a life by the metaphor of the seeded flower’s life in its full expression as a blossom. The flower’s life, derived from the life in its seed, is ultimately fully expressed in the flower’s full blossoming. Each flower contains seed needed for life to beget life, which is reproduced after “its own kind.” The blossom of the flower is the glory or expression of the life that is in the original flower seed. God the Father in Christ, as the original seed, is the original eternal spirit-life who begets eternal spirit-life in the believer – all believers share His one life.
For the flower’s seed to germinate, it must first suffer death to its outer shell. The life is then released out of that death, to grow to maturity. This is similar to the allegorical description of the life-process Jesus spoke of concerning the release and multiplication of His life. “Verily, verily, I (Jesus) say unto you, Except a corn (seed) of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24 ). Here Jesus is saying, by His death His life would become germinated, multiplying itself. The Father’s life-plan would bring “many sons to glory” (Heb 2:10) out of Jesus suffering and death. All the believers are the multiplication and enlargement of God’s family that comes by sharing the one life of the “seed, which is Christ” (Galatians 3:16, 1Peter 1:23). We now possess the Christ-seed within our spirit and we thereby have the potential of being the “glorious expression” of the Lord’s life. We contain His life in our spirit, so that His expression may flow through our souls as He wills. Only His life released brings forth the genuine fruit of God.
I have described “glory” in terms of the flower in order to explain the necessity of suffering in the believer’s life. The flower’s seed has a “shell” that must be broken to release the life within. Our shell, which is our independent soul-self, must be broken, in order to release the life of Christ from within our spirit. Thus we see that there is a great connection between suffering and glory (expression).
Suffering deals with our being deceived. With no suffering, there can be no knowledge by realization of who we are NOT. We are Not the gods of our own life. We are wayward souls, separated from God often living waywardly independent from God even after our salvation. Suffering exposes this truth to us. We are NOT adequate within ourselves to live the Christian life overcomingly, as evidenced by our lack of rest and peace.
We may think we can do what we need to do, but we are not really in control of anything. We learn this only by suffering the failure of self-rule and self-effort. To me, the greatest suffering is not necessarily physical, but rather the loss of control. God desires that we give up control to trust Him and His leading, moment by moment. Suffering situations and circumstances that are beyond our control brings us to the realization of that need and His desire.
Satan has inspired the illusion of control in all of us since the day he tempted Eve, saying if you eat of the forbidden tree of knowledge “you shall be as gods” (Gen 3:5). This illusion must be broken before we will turn our hearts to trust Christ in us as our life. Without suffering failure, we cannot come to the knowledge of who we really are – we are the dependent children of God, the Almighty Father who loves us and cares for us. He is fully sufficient to father us, and guide and protect us in love.
The Lord suffered for us, but we also will endure suffering. The cup of suffering (Mark 10:39) is crucial to our being able to realize the truth of our state, as it was for Paul when the Lord denied his three pleadings to remove the thorn Paul suffered in his flesh. The Lord told Paul “my grace is sufficient.” Christ Himself is the very grace of God and His life in us is sufficient for all that we will endure.
The cup we drink from in life is always at the hands of our loving Father. Jesus willingly took the cup of suffering at the hands of His Father, so that His glorious life might be multiplied to us and expressed in us. “…Jesus unto Peter… the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” John 18:11
Taking the cup revealed Jesus’ true state of utter yieldedness and dependence upon the Father. Paul admonished the Philippians Christians to have the same attitude or mindset of Jesus, who suffered obedience unto death of the cross (Philip 2:5-8). The Father now administers the cup of suffering to us, that we might let go of self-dependence in order to trust Christ in us as our life and innermost guide. Only then may we go from a “Christ in you THE HOPE of glory” to His actually being glorified or expressed in and through our lives?
This suffering we endure is the Father’s best for us. The Father uses all things for our good (Rom 8:28-29). The evil doings of Joseph’s brothers was ordained of God and meant for the good. “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good...” (Gen 50:20)
Paul sat in the Roman Caesar’s prison, yet he said he was the “prisoner of the Lord” (Ephes. 4:1a). We see from this that Paul considered his suffering to be actually at the hands of the Lord. Trusting God His Father, Paul learned to be “content in whatever state” the Lord placed Him (Philip 4:11).
Our suffering is often at the hand of other people. People who are ignorant of the truth of the indwelling Christ will often persecute the Christians who desire and seek to walk with Him single mindedly. Frankly, these most often are other Christians who do not know Him intimately. The cruelest sufferings I’ve endured in this life have been at the hands of my “brothers and sisters in Christ”. Paul says we may be may denigrated, defamed, and vilified as we seek to walk with Him. “And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled (vilified), we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: 13Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth (refuse) of the world, and are the offscouring (scum) of all things unto this day.” (1 Cor. 4:12-13). You will be misunderstood if you follow Christ within you. Jesus was misunderstood by the men who reviled and killed Him because He claimed, as we do, to be one with the Father as His offspring bearing His very life.
Peter says it’s not at all strange for a Christian to suffer. It’s the smelting or purifying furnace for God’s glory to be revealed in us. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery (smelting) trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.”(1 Pet 4:12-14)
The suffering God prescribes for us, are for our good, since suffering does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We cannot make our self trust God – so it is He that is at work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil 2:13). “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)
Jesus came “in the name of” or authority of the literal Person of the Father. Paul, suffered for Christ’s “name’s sake,” that he might also bear the authority Christ. “But the Lord said unto him (Ananias), Go thy way: for he (Saul/Paul) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name (my person) before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16For I will shew him how great things he (Paul) must suffer for my name’s sake (name = person, for the sake of the expression of Christ’s life)” (Acts 9:15-16).
“The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” will flow out of us in the person (authority) of Christ – but first we must be broken in soul for the release the flow of His Spirit. Many want to speak with God’s authority but this only comes as we submit to or suffer His Lordship from within – then our speaking will be His speaking.