that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Good morning friends. The word suffering can be defined as the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship. Frankly, it is not a word many would like to be described by or identified with. A good number of charities and non-governmental organisations have invested billions in money and man hours, finding ways of alleviating suffering; especially in developing countries.
Many in the church today see this word as a taboo! In fact a very popular song in the Pentecostal movement in Nigeria has this chorus; “I will not suffer, I will not beg for bread”. It is widely sung across Africa, and has also travelled with the church into Europe, America and Asia.
But the last time I read my bible I saw these words by the Psalmist;
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
The disciples rejoiced and were glad to be counted worthy to take part in pain, suffering, persecution, torture, and ultimately death for the gospel sake! Sadly we preach and teach; God our provider, instead of God our saviour. So God has now become a service provider, one that replaces or substitutes the health service, social service; one that offers career guidance and business advice. As a result dear friends, we have disciples that are not ready to take up their cross, but ready to claim their houses, cars and other material objects in Jesus’ name!
So in closing, I hear these words by the psalmist;
Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
I have seen the wicked in great power,
And spreading himself like a native green tree. Yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more; indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.