“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church”
Some Christians feel that they should be immune from suffering. This verse says that we are to enter the “afflictions of Christ.”
“and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ”
The New Testament never uses the word “afflictions” of Christ’s death. No one can duplicate the sufferings of Christ on the cross. No one can duplicate his suffering for our sin.
“Afflictions” means “pressure,” or “distress.” Paul had plenty of that (II Cor 11:23-29). These are the ordinary trials of life. When we suffer for the gospel we share the afflictions of Christ (I Pet. 1:11; 2:20,21; 4:1, 12,13; 5:8-10; Phil 3:10).
We are to fill up the afflictions of Christ that he had before his cross and death. His afflictions came from many sources. Many rejected him and his message. The Scribes, Sadducees and Pharisees all maligned him. Religion persecuted him. Now it is Paul’s turn at bat. He is in jail for preaching the gospel. He had to look at a bean ball of persecution. Now it is our turn at bat. It has been someone else’s turn to face trial ever since the church started.
It is axiomatic that no one will be exempt from suffering.
The issue lies in how we suffer. God doles every Christian a quota of suffering. Suffering here means glory hereafter.
We cannot get through life without weeping and suffering. The Christian is not immune to trial, disease, relationship problems or accident. It is not easy to learn the lesson of how to suffer. Most of us endure suffering.
If we accept the fact that God doles out a quota of suffering for every Christian, we can accept our plight better. We can view it as his divine design.
Some suffer more than others. God’s doctrine is the doctrine of individuality; the world’s doctrine is the doctrine of uniformity. This age wants everyone to be alike. They want everyone to like the same things. They stamp out everyone on an assembly line. Everything with God varies; every fingerprint is different, every snowflake, every personality. God does not want us to be alike. God wants unique individual personalities. Because no two people are exactly alike, even twins, God designs each individual believer’s suffering uniquely for him. None of us will suffer the same quantity or the same quality. There are many kinds of suffering, physical, mental, financial and spiritual. We all face suffering differently.
If we grow in grace at a rate corresponding to our suffering, we will be able to cope with the magnitude of our problems.