Coincidence is a much-maligned word, for it’s so often inflected as luck when it merely describes how two things—usually unrelated—come conjoined in an incident.
Such is a truth when we consider the coincidence of suffering and glory; two seemingly opposed ideas. But such a thing as the coexistence of suffering and glory necessarily relates to the narrow way that Jesus talks about in Matthew 7:13-14. Only those willing to enter through the narrow gate—to venture through their pain in faithfulness to God—will endure in such a way as to experience glory for their suffering in this life.
This is what I mean by the coincidence of suffering and glory. Both of these disparate things come together by the grace of God, in the seminary of trial.
In crude plainness, there is great hope in the midst of suffering, for a greater piece of glory may be experienced for the price of our obedience to suffer it rather well.
In such ways we take upon our shoulders the yoke of personal oppression. We suffer that yoke with humility, as best we can. Finally, at the right time, and by God’s way of anointing, we experience a kind of glorification, by the Holy Spirit.
Then we come to another truth: the denial of suffering, because of the pain. Most people go this way. It is the wide road. Even those who take the right path—as I’ve mentioned above—will venture from time to time (for short periods of tempting) in the denial of their suffering. True suffering is too much for anyone to bear perfectly.
But to rail against suffering is a bad thing in the long run.
To resist our suffering to the point that we turn from a good way—of bearing it well, or as well as we can—is the folly of cowardice, laziness, pride, or one of another vice.
To turn the wrong way is to turn away from the way to life; and it may seem right to us. But we are advised to bear the problem well—as well as we can—in the hope of an eventual glorification, where our experience of glory brings glory to God.
It is inevitable that we will suffer at some point. Then we have a choice as to how we will suffer. We should know, beforehand, that there is a coincidence of suffering and glory; where suffering coincides with glory when we meet our suffering well. We simply keep turning back to God, and not away from God; despite the temptation to go our own way.
Only in God can we suffer well; by a hope of an eventual glory. Suffering has its purpose in glory; we can suffer well when we wish to bring glory to God. In that, God glorifies us.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.