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Is suffering the necessary way to glory?
I read that Jesus has explained to Cleopas and his companion on their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus that “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer before entering into His glory?” (Luke 24:26 NJB) Shortly after that, Jesus manifested Himself to the apostles. He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, Luke writes, and said to them: “So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.” (Luke 24:46 TEV) With these announcements to His disciples, Jesus reinterprets and unties the guilt-ridden connection between suffering and sin. Jesus is the sinless One, yet He suffers the most. For Jesus, suffering is the necessary way to glory. God has planned it this way for Jesus (Acts 2:23-24 TEV). Jesus is completely obedient to His Father. He is not rebellious like us. Jesus trusts His Father absolutely and completely and unlike us He does not feel the need to have to seek answers for His suffering. He accepts His suffering. Jesus glory is that He is risen, risen indeed on the third day. He is resurrected. In His resurrection, He conquers death and shows us that love is stronger than death.
But, what is my glory in my suffering? How can there be any glory in my suffering? Before I can answer these questions to my own satisfaction, I have to ask myself, Do I truly believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Many of us are like doubting Thomas, who said, “Unless I can see the scars of the nails in His hands and put my finger on those scars and my hand on His side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25 TEV) But, if we truly believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, then, we “will share in the glory of God” (Colossians 1:27 TEV). Also, we need to understand that as “we are children. . . of God. . .we share His suffering so as to share His glory.”(Romans 8:17 NJB) Thus, when we believe in Jesus, Jesus shares in our suffering and, in turn, we share in His suffering and the glory of His resurrection. And our glory is, therefore, our resurrection with Jesus Christ. HOW?
As human beings, we know how very little it takes for us to easily fall into the
negative moods of being frustrated, hurt, pained, depressed, irritated,
hopeless, anger, hate, fear, etc. BUT, every time we recover
quickly from lousy moods to positive moods, from complaining attitude to an
attitude of gratitude, we are resurrected with Jesus. Every time we renew
our hope instead of giving in to despair in our hardship, we are resurrected
with Jesus. Every time we are gentle and slow to anger instead of flying
into a temper when we quarrel, we are resurrected with Jesus. Every time we
forgive instead of being resentful or revengeful because of injuries done to us,
we are resurrected with Jesus. Every time we repent and say sorry instead
of standing on our pride when we do wrong, we are resurrected with Jesus. Every
time we care and be present to our suffering poor instead of avoiding or
ignoring them, we are resurrected with Jesus. Every time we are thoughtful
instead of looking out only after number one (ourselves), we are resurrected
with Jesus. Every time we are obedient to Christ’s teachings instead of giving
in to our willfulness when we have to make a tough decision, we are resurrected
with Jesus. Every time our hearts become soft like flesh instead of hard like
stone, we are resurrected with Jesus. Every time we love more and hate less
in our daily contact with one another, we are resurrected with Jesus.
Father Henri J M Nouwen interpreted, “Oh, foolish people, don’t you know that our suffering has been freed by God from the demonic power of guilt and has been made into the way to glory? But we keep forgetting it. We keep flagellating ourselves. We keep giving in to self-rejection and depression. We have to be taught over and over again the true meaning of the Scriptures so that our hearts can start to burn again and our eyes and ears can be opened to the greatest message of hope ever brought to us.” (The Road to Peace, 171)
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