Humanity builds monuments for those who have suffered. Sometimes we call them war memorials, and they fill us with pride. Then there are the gravestones of our loved ones, where we remember our loss. Occasionally smaller, fleeting monuments bloom by the side of the road, the reminder of an accident that took a life.
For the Christian, our greatest monument to suffering is the cross upon which our Savior died. For others, it might be the scars on arms telling of a sin-filled life.
The worst scars can be those no one sees, for they remain hidden inside. Yet, they can be a monument to suffering as well.
Paul, one of the great Apostles, a champion of the Christ, and a teacher of God’s truth, found himself swallowed up in suffering. It was his daily companion, and it threatened him every hour. However, Paul found a way through his suffering by keeping his grasp firmly on Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:9-13 reveals five steps we must go through when we suffer for Christ.
Step #1: We will suffer as if we are evil doers.
When we are suffering, we must remember one unalterable fact: The Word of God is not bound by our circumstances. He is the same yesterday, today, and evermore.
Step #2: We must endure our suffering for the sake of those around us.
People are watching us. When they see that our suffering does not defeat us, they will be drawn unto Christ, for they will see Jesus in us.
Step #3: We will suffer the same trials as Christ faced on this earth.
When we place our faith in the cross, the same God who brought renewed life to the lifeless Jesus will bring life to us. We can be assured we will live with him.
Step #4: We will reign with Christ.
When we endure the same sufferings as Christ, we will have the same rewards as Christ. However, to refuse the sufferings that come with our Christian walk is to have Christ deny us on that final day.
Step #5: Christ will remain our faithful redeemer, ever calling us to him, even if we should fall away.
We do not have to believe in Christ for him to be real. All he has to do is believe in us. He cannot help himself. He holds his arms out to us, and when we reach to him, he cradles us in his embrace.
Our lives on this earth will embody suffering, and there is no way around that. However, it is to our credit when we live our lives as a monument to the suffering Christ endured on the cross. Others are watching our every step, and when the sinner sees Christ in us, Christ will be able to draw the sinner unto him.
Christ suffered first so that we would not be alone. He wishes us to be strong, as he was strong. Then others will be brought into the fold.
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