SUFFERING is the great cause of Christianity — a faith that incarnates every time we do anything in the name of our Lord who suffered, who bore reproach, who said that no slave is more important than their master. We will suffer — in this life, nonetheless — so it is to our glory as much as it is to God’s that we can learn the purpose of suffering and therefore learn to give God great praise in it, though not for it!
Yet suffering is a means and not an end in itself. Suffering draws people to us, for they see an admirable capacity in us that they would wish to acquire — a strength they do not yet possess. Besides, there is great strength — and nothing like weakness — in someone who can resist their flesh regard to pursue vengeance for the offence their pride so hates.
Yet what we received was a gift; the simple life of faith gave us the capacity to bear the burden we were once crushed under.
What we received was a gift. What we have today is that same gift. It is not ours to profit from.
There is a connection with receiving freely and giving freely this grace gift and the joy that comes. Joy cannot abide unless we hold our possession of faith lightly. And this is important, for this reason: we will so quickly forget that we received a gift as soon as our pride rears up and insists we should get special treatment.
If Jesus got no special treatment neither can we expect to get it.
This is a hard thing to read, let alone to get to know, and to more fully accept.
But it helps if we continue to sow into the understanding that we cannot expect a free gift to be worthy of our dignity’s protection. Indeed, as our dignity is brought out into the arena of use and abuse — where it is trodden on disrespectfully — is the very arena where God’s glory is manifestly revealed; as we suffer well the reproaches of those and those situations who would curse us.
The beauty of a gift is that it is free. Faith is a gift. It costs us nothing except belief, implicit of humility and courage.
Likewise, we can expect no special favours because of our faith.
What is and was free for us — which is free for all humankind — is simply to be given freely.
When we see the grace gift of faith for what it is we are indwelt with joy.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.