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Philippians 1:29: “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”

Suffer. Doesn’t that word just make you pull back and feel uncomfortable just at the mention of it? The Greek word for suffer is pascho and means to be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a sensible experience, to undergo, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight. Strong’s Definition: apparently a primary verb; to experience a sensation or impression (usually painful) — feel, passion, suffer, vex. (1)

There’s also the word suffering, which in the Greek is pathema meaning:

    1. That which one suffers or has suffered

        A. externally, a suffering, misfortune, calamity, evil, affliction

            i. Of the sufferings of Christ

            ii. also the afflictions which Christians must undergo in behalf of the same cause which Christ patiently endured

        B. of an inward state, an affliction, passion

    2. An enduring, undergoing, suffering

Strong’s Definition: something undergone; i.e. hardship or pain; subjectively, an emotion or influence:—affection, affliction, motion, suffering. (2)

Let’s look at some passages on suffering...

Colossians 1:24: “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of his body which is the church.”

Philippians 3:10-11: “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.”

Hebrews 2:9: “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”

1 Peter 4:13: “but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”

Luke 24:26: “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”

Hebrews 2:18: “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”

Hebrews 5:8: “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”

I remember as a 17 year old girl, hearing our pastor talk to my youth group one night about suffering. It was a small group of teenagers in a small church. The pastor had given us all our own copy of the New Testament Living Bible. I felt excitement and anticipation of a possible new love. I had my own King James Version Bible that was given to me as a child, but this was an invitation. I knew I was about to fall in love with His Word. Back to the talk that night...suffering. The mere mention of the word strikes fear in our hearts. We immediately recoil. Hearing the word suffering almost brings about suffering. That night, I was struck with dread over hearing the idea that suffering was necessary and inevitable. I don’t remember much of the pastor’s words now, but I do remember the feeling of dread and knowing the surety that one day I would experience suffering. That led to different scenarios I played in my mind of things I might go through that God would consider suffering. Almost like bargaining...if this or that was bad enough, maybe He would let me off with that.

I had had my share of suffering and also had observed suffering growing up...

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