READ: Numbers 1-3, Psalm 41, Mark 13, Romans 13

RIGHTEOUS SUFFERING

Much of the pain we experience in life is a result of our own folly. Our own pride, selfishness, insecurity, sin, ambition, jealousy, and pride lead us down painful paths.

There is a pain however, undeserved. Nothing hurts quite as much as to be “toxic” to your colleagues and friends. To have them whisper against you (Psalm 41:7), to treat you as if an evil disease clings to you (41:8), to have your own “familiar friend, in whom you trusted, lift up their heel against you” (41:9). Social leprosy, far from numbing you, stings like little else.

It is a deep wound to be misunderstood, mistrusted, doubted, questioned, slandered, falsely accused, to not be able to explain what really happened, and to bear quietly some undeserved scarlet letter. These deep wounds are opportunities, opportunities to enter the fellowship of Jesus’s sufferings.

There is an intimacy and a union with Jesus only gained when we suffer unjustly. When we experience the betrayal that Jesus did, we feel what Jesus felt. If we will respond how Jesus responded (He opened not His mouth), there is the possibility of deep reward. The deep wounds of righteous suffering are not to be confused with the surface scratches that result from our own folly, stubbornness, and flesh. All too often we lick our scratches in self-pity, scratches we earned because of our own poor choices.

Let us be vigilant not to confuse the hurt that arises from our sin, and the deep wounds which result from the sin of others. Only the grief of being “toxic to others” because we are righteous before God can lead to the deepest intimacy with Jesus and the sweet sorrow of righteous suffering. The bitter consequences of stupidity and selfishness are not to be confused with the character-changing agony of suffering for and with Jesus.

If we are to suffer, let it be because of Jesus and the advance of His gospel. No suffering is too bitter if it is for His sake. Righteous suffering always leads to the character of Jesus being stamped deeply on ours. The joy of righteous suffering is that the hurt produces the union of our heart and mind and will and emotion to His. Suffering for being stupid just hurts.

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