Share in the Sufferings of Christ

Yesterday I was listening to Josh McDowell on the Briarwood radio station - between the squealing baby, ABC's practice, fighting boys, and moaning big brother - very little was seeping through to me, but I was desperate for some renewal.

His focus this week has been on fellowship, and he was talking about sharing in the sufferings of Christ, as we hear the Apostle Paul refer to several times throughout his letters.

Then it hit me...Remember this is coming from a mom of six, paraphrasing what she heard through the clutter.

McDowell reminded that as we share in the sufferings of Christ, it is not necessarily speaking of those sufferings and pain that would naturally be in our lives from the fall, though, we are called to die to ourselves in the midst of those also. Instead, the sufferings of Christ are those that took on the pain of others, when He didn't deserve it. He bore those pains, to the point of death; he did not defend Himself, but stood for those whose pains He bore, even when they turned away.

I've been considering this a lot today. If I took away three kiddos, their families, social workers, court dates, and all that went with it, I would still have a good bit of burden, pain, and "out-of-controlness." But, being led by the Father, we've chosen to share in the sufferings of Christ, to those who really may not remember what has been done for them, to those who really may not appreciate the sacrifices made, to those whose pain is really, really messy.

And so I share.

This has silenced my soul when I've seen double the grocery bill, double the dentist and doctor visits, when I've cleaned up throw up in the middle of the night, and when I've held them even as they've screamed they hate me. In those insane moments, my soul has been quieted, because I see me, flailing against Him, even as he holds me tighter, pursues me more closely, whispers more tenderly.

As God has opened more and more doors for us to be in the life of families, we've heard one question again and again, "Who are you?" Sometime we also get, "What do you really want?"

To return their gaze and be able to say with full confidence, "We're just really broken people, but we're here to carry your pain and burdens with you for a time, for a season, just as He has done for us."

It's such a very short season, this pilgrimage, and so far, our invitation has never been turned down. But more than that, each time I've seen myself share in the sufferings of Christ, through sharing the pain of others, I can promise you, I've shared in His joy, His peace, His glory, so much more.

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