I rejoice in my
Brothers and sisters: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God
Is Paul saying that Jesus’ sufferings were not enough to save us? We might misunderstand him that way, but what Paul really means is that Jesus’ suffering does not deliver us from having to suffer.
Paul was the perfect example of the fact that Christ’s people have to endure suffering so His word might be prclaimed. Paul labored, was beaten many times, continually faced death, and was imprisoned. He had been lashed, shipwrecked, had been put in danger from Jews and Gentiles alike, was threatened in the city and the country; went hungry, thirsty, cold, and exposed. Besides all this, he had the daily pressure of the Churches; he was weakened by every weak member, and was intensely concerned with every Christian who fell led into sin.
We might think that Jesus endured pain and anguish so that our lives would be easy and painless, but Paul says the opposite. Jesus didn’t die and rise to rescue us from the messy inconvenience of dying and rising. Jesus died and rose so that we could share in His death and resurrection. So too with His afflictions: The Head suffered so that the Body and each member can participate in His sufferings.
Paul didn’t think that his sufferings had any innate value. Rather he rejoiced in the fact that his suffering, all the afflictions he endured were for the sake of the Church. They resulted in spreading Jesus’ gospel far and wide. He was bringing the world what Mary longed for – the ability to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear His word.
Some people deal with trouble and pain in twisted ways. Some boast of their pain. The reason is not hard to find. When you’ve lost your health, and your marriage, and your kids, and your dignity, and your job, and your friends – when you have nothing else, at least you have your pain. You can still cling doggedly to your loss. Pain sometimes seems to be the only thing we can call our own. Paul won’t let us have that.
Whatever we suffer, Jesus has claimed that too. It all belongs to Him. Jesus doesn’t just want the best parts of us, the strong and healthy members. Jesus claims every last bit of us, even – especially – our weaknesses. Let us give our all to Him and proclaim Him even in our afflictions. Let others sit at our feat to hear His word in our good and bad times.