ODJ: the fruit of suffering

February 16, 2014 

READ: Luke 23:32-49 

Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (v.43).

How are you doing now?” my friend asked as we walked down the path. The last time Adrian and I had spoken I had told him that my wife and I were not able to have children, and the pain this had brought us.

“On the whole,” I said, “we’re doing better. I guess we’re trying to focus on the upside of being childless and the opportunities it brings. You know, like being free to travel”. “Yes,” Adrian said, “although that can take you only so far”. We walked a little further before he explained what he meant.

“There was no upside to Jesus’ suffering. His crucifixion was a dark, barbaric event. And Jesus never tried to find a positive side to it. Instead, He did something else entirely”. “Go on,” I said. “Have you ever noticed how many people Jesus ministered to as He hung on the cross?” Adrian asked. Then he said, “He ministered to His mother . . . ” “You mean putting her in John’s care?” I inquired (John 19:26-27). “That’s right. He ministered to the thief crucified next to Him, and to the people who crucified Him (Luke 23:33-34,39-43). His death ministered to the Roman centurion who came to believe in Him (v.47), and He ministered to us—forgiving our sins through His sacrifice. All of this was done in the middle of Jesus’ suffering, before things came good at His resurrection”.

I thought deeply as we continued down the path.

“Yes, there may be some benefits in being childless, but you will also find it difficult and lonely. If you follow Jesus’ example, however, out of your suffering will come opportunities to minister to people in ways you otherwise couldn’t. For Jesus, crucifixion was a mission field. And with Him, the fruit of our suffering can be service to others too”. —Sheridan Voysey

Read Romans 8:28, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 and Galatians 4:13 to see some examples of God redeeming suffering for the sake of others.  
How might your suffering develop empathy in you for others who suffer? How might Jesus want to serve others through your pain?