Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory.
1 Peter 4:13 HCSB
I always had a narrow view of sharing in the sufferings of Christ. I thought that these sufferings were relegated to the persecution and scorn attributed to standing for Him and His Gospel. For instance, receiving negative backlash with a joy imparted through the Spirit. Or perhaps turning the other cheek when someone slaps you, or giving your coat when someone sues your shirt off. But today I’m seeing an expansion of this scripture because of the suffering His Love endures.
His Love and Christ’s Suffering
You see, Love is a force so powerful, so radiant, that it calls men to respond from the heart. We will either reject it or receive it, and amazingly, there’s really no middle ground. So how does this relate to the sufferings of Christ? In two ways. First, unrequited love – a love that is not received nor returned – is a very painful suffering to encounter. It’s one thing to have your opinion or thoughts rejected, it’s quite another to have your love rejected and be left out in the cold. Love is so tied to our hearts. It embodies such emotion and investment. We don’t love passively—we love vulnerably. It’s an opening in our beings to our very core, and this is precisely what God risks in loving us—pain and the rejection of unreciprocated love. This is a suffering by which He allows Himself to be impacted. And I too am asked to carry His love, even through its rejection.
Love unreturned is an agony He’s suffered daily since the Garden. And it’s excruciatingly painful. He’s willing to set His heart out for such abuse. And as He is in me and I am in Him, He calls me to love with His love. It’s often to the loveless and unresponsive. This is one aspect of sharing in His suffering that I don’t naturally associate with the fellowship of suffering.
Sharing in His Suffering
The second thing I’m seeing is less negative and more affirming. Love hurts, even when it’s returned! There is a pain in loving that He asks us to embrace. When we embrace His love for another, our world is rocked. There’s also a pain in carrying His love that I don’t naturally associate with it. It’s that ache of longing. It’s that pain of yearning. Love is even emptiness at times. And it’s not just when loving the resistant; there’s a daily ache and flux when carrying it for people open and receptive as well. Who would have thought that sharing in His suffering would include His own pining to love His children?
Love is so God that the world can’t remain the same in His presence. All those in the vicinity of love feel it’s effects. Why would every human on this earth so passionately seek it if it weren’t such a force? We will even manufacture it to experience it. God’s children are called to carry His true love and they’ll feel the wrack of its rejection and/or acceptance. Carrying His Love for those He chooses is a fellowship in His suffering! I know there are those who have carried it for me, and I too carry it for others. It’s a joy and an opportunity to know Him as we fellowship in His suffering.
That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.
Philippians 3:10 NASB