His Love: Sharing in His Suffering

Christ praying in anguish

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

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

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?

God so Loved!

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

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    33 Comments

    • Tammy

      As I read your post, His love filled anointing is so heavy it lingers physically, leaving such peace in its wake it’s impossible to describe.

      Some of the most intimate times of communion with our Lord are a result of His love for another (through us) which results in suffering. Not one minute of it would I trade.

      Bless you John

    • Paul

      After reading this, I can only say: SELAH!

      Powerful, John, so very powerful…thank you!!!

      • Irene

        Yes Paul, Selah!

    • Irene

      Your words are a balm to my aching soul today. Thank you John.

    • brother kirk

      This post of John’s today is a “CALL” A call to love and a call to be loved and a call to respond and be caught by HIS LOVE. I say YES to the CALL.

    • Susan

      I never thought of it this way, but it’s true John. Happy you put the verse to the reality. Bless you.

    • Tina

      How often do we come into worship, seeking and receiving His love, then leave and go back to the other pleasures, only to return and take again? God’s heart aches for our full love and affection, to be the recipient of our single-hearted love…so He gives unconditionally, slowly restoring us from the captivity of worthless things with His love that is precious beyond compare. Oh Father, forgive me, pursue me until I am fully Yours!

    • Tina

      For those of you who have Spotify listen to Redemption Rain (extended version) by Jonathan David Helser from the album Endless Ocean. Empty My Soul and other songs on this album are just as meaningful.

    • Cindy Pollard

      Your message rings with the Spirit of a man who lives in love.

      • Tammy

        amen

    • Linda

      That was eye opening.

    • Laurie

      So true…as I was reading this I literally smelt roses so strong. Immediately I saw the most magnificent red rose extended towards us ❤ this message is very fragrant ?⚘
      I keep thinking about joy in the midst of suffering. Our greatest gift is having the hope/promise He gives us (which becomes our joy) in the suffering and the reassurance of His sustaining love even when we can’t feel it. I’d say the opposite of joy is not suffering
      It’s dispare in suffering…
      He never calls us to dispare in it ever but rejoice. It really has been a mystery to me for so long,this joy,in suffering. I’m blessed to have grasped pieces of it as the fullness of His love is being revealed to me.

    • Jacquelyn

      Thank you, John. This is the very thing the Lord was speaking to me about this morning.

      • I love when He does that. It is like bolding and underlining the words and the confirmation makes it so deeply personal. Love you!

    • Tony Marotta

      Love it and you Brother John!

      • I love you back Tony! Thank for commenting.

    • Jim

      Excellent word!
      Thanks John…. For hearing and sharing…

      • Thank Jim! Glad to hear from you. I miss you man!

    • LaDonna Spears

      “we love vulnerably”
      Receiving the word with tears…

      • Bless you for receiving it LaDonna! Love you.

    • Don Hartness

      THIS, to which I would add one more.

      Unrequited love is indeed excruciating, especially when it comes from Him. Wait, what? Yes, you read that right. Just like there are times when we ask but don’t receive, and we learn that this was for a greater purpose, so too we will ask for Him alone, but which he remains strangely aloof. Where are you Lord?

      It’s about preparing our hearts. My biggest growth spurts in love have always come from the most painful heartbreaks. If a heart is to grow, it must be broken out of the shell encasing it. Although it can come through a person, sometimes it comes through Him directly. Love includes trust, a lesson we never understand unless we endure. If we hold on, our faith AND our love will be rewarded. Don’t let go.

      • Kinda like the Canaanite woman, huh?! His “no” was to increase her faith and ability to receive. While painful, I love when His seeming silence, is used to expand my capacity to receive more of Him. Thank you for sharing this Don!

        • Don Hartness

          *fist bump*

    • Wanda

      It’s kind of like what’s been happening to me lately..even when I’m reading a book, I’m feeling the depth of the emotion expressed and the pain it causes. I feel injustice like its my own. I feel another’s hate and unforgiveness, and everything in me shouts No! You have to forgive, you can’t hang on to this, let it go” This sounds a little crazy, I know. Sometimes I have a hard time expressing just what is happening in me. Your blog touches what is happening to me, and I know its something the Lord is working in me. Bless you John and all the Shulamites. Love you

      • Love you much Wanda! So pleased this blog is speaking to you deeply. That is the greatest compliment and encouragement.

    • Bruce

      GOOD WORD. SOUNDS A LITTLE FAMILIAR.

    • Deborah

      These are very familiar places for me…unrequited love…the longing…with the latter I am reminded of the patience of our Bridegroom who says…Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. Beautiful Jesus…the King of the Universe waiting for His Bride to desire His Love. Exquisitely painful…keenly heart wrenching. Tender to the touch…but touch us here so we are one with you Yeshua.

      • Love is certainly the greatest test and equalizer of us all. When we embrace love we live, when we resist it we die. Bless you for grappling with the many facets of His love Deborah. Bless you!

    • Helen

      You’ve put words to what we sometimes experience without fully seeing it. His Love goes father & deeper; & strange things happen. It goes where nothing else ever could. I’ve been stunned by its flow through the vessel of my heart. I can be aware of my quitting places, & on He goes. “It’s an opening in our very beings to our very core, & this is precisely what God risks in loving us..” What perspective this gives, knowing my own part in running from His Love…till i ran right into Him! How you’ve encouraged us here to enter the fellowship of His sufferings…in ordinary, messy, profound places, in the middle of our heart & His Love. Love walks among hearts; & only Love can walk among hearts. The world is a dangerous place…that’s nothing…compared to Life in the Lord Who walks among hearts! It’s there i am in awe of Him!

      • Walking among hearts is exactly it. Us walking in our heart, among others hearts, hopefully in His heart. Love you Helen!

    • Celia

      Thank you for this blog and the older one you linked to. I have recently been complaining to the Lord that it is too hard being empathetic to the degree that I am. Then I was in a situation where I was the recipient of one who did not “mourn with those who mourn” and it hurt. The cost of relating well with other’s grief is high, but to imagine a world with people unwilling to be the hands, feet and heart of Christ would be a terrible thing. I feel the key is asking Him how to love and bear other’s burdens with grief and wrestling, fellowshipping in His sufferings, but without letting it sink us or harden us via self protection, and hold out faith and hope in Christ. It is one thing to love and understand other people’s grief, it is another to be with them there, and then point them higher. Your blog helps in calling us to remember that if we suffer, even for others, it is for a purpose, and we are with Him every step of the way. It is not just an annoying personality trait that the Lord needs to fix in us, or that we need to get over.

      • I completely agree with you Celia! Thank you for sharing this. I have found the only way to remain soft rather than hardening in the waves of inevitable suffering is to continually gaze upon Him. While we might not understand what is happening in the moment, He will bring us to peace every time. Love and blessing to you!

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