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30 June, 2014

Christ in Suffering

Octavius Winslow, 1863

"Surely, I am with you always — even unto the end of the world!" Matthew 28:20

Christ is ever with you — in suffering. He Himself was a sufferer. Oh, suffering never looked so lovely, martyrdom never wore a crown so resplendent — as when the Son of God bowed His head and drank the cup of woe for us! Himself a sufferer — is there a being in the universe who could take His place at your side in all the scenes of mental, spiritual, and bodily suffering through which your Heavenly Father leads you, comparable to Christ? What are your sufferings — contrasted with His? And what was there in the unparalleled greatness and intensity of His sufferings — to disqualify Him from entering with the warmest love and deepest sympathy into yours?

Suffering for His sake, or suffering His will — He is with you to sustain, to mitigate, to sanctify. It is given to you not only to believe — but also to suffer for Christ. Removed from the active sphere of your Christianity — the sphere and the service which, perhaps, you too fondly idolized — He has placed you in the school of passive endurance — a position the most irksome and trying to you. Look into the burning, fiery furnace of the three children of Israel: "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed — and the fourth looks like the Son of God!" (Daniel 3:25) So is Christ with you in suffering. You shall pass through the furnace — the flames only destroying your bonds and setting you free from some dominant sin, some potent spell, some slavish fear — bringing you more fully into the happy, holy, realization of your adoption, pardon, and acceptance of God. Treading that furnace at your side, controlling its flames, tempering its heat — is the same Son of God who trod it with them, and who says to you, "Surely, I am with you always!"

The blessed Savior is never more with His people than in suffering. He himself has been a sufferer, and He knows how to pity His people when they suffer; and if best for them — He can send them quick relief.