From: THE OFFICER 1991Captain Howard Webber
Many of us have considered it at some time. The only thing that prevented me from sailing away at one point in my officership was the fact that I didn't know the whereabouts of a boat big enough for the seven of us in our household! I praise God now that there was no such es cape available, for I have discovered (as our opening verse said), that he was there and he did teach me; in fact he has taught me far more than I could ever have imagined.
Much is said about the peace and joy that are the possession of the disciple, but little mention is made of the suffering that is to be his possession too. Much is said of Jesus being the burden-bearer who gives relief to the heavy-laden, but little with regard to the fact that as he takes upon himself our load, it is exchanged for us sharing in his.
I've yet to meet anyone who has taken 'The world will make you suffer' (John 16:33), or 'Everyone who wants to live a godly life in union with Christ Jesus will be persecuted' (2 Timothy 3:12), out of a promise box. We are selective with regard to the promises of God we treasure and hold to our heart.
Suffering is not nice; but a better understanding of it, willingness to accept our share of it, and the discovery of how to respond to it, might not only enrich our own relationship with and understanding of God, but make us more effective for him in a most powerful way.
The focus of our thoughts in terms of God's call tends to be on praying, preaching, pastoring, administration and various forms of caring, but I would suggest that God's call has as much, if not more, to do with suffering with him and for him than anything else. Willingness to suffer for Christ and with Christ is the prerequisite of true discipleship and at the heart of everything.
Jesus said, 'If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget self, carry his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his own life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it' (Matthew 16:24, 25).
`If you endure suffering even when you have done right, God will bless you for it. It was to this that God called you' (1 Peter 2:20, 21). The words 'Take your part in suffering, as a loyal soldier of Christ Jesus' (2 Timothy 2:3) have more than a heavy implication that there is a suffering set aside for us that we should bear as Christ, and for Christ, if we are to be true followers of Christ.
When we enlist as soldiers under Christ's command, we join him in his war against Satan and as Paul Rees reminds us, 'soldiers are not only in battle to shoot, but to be shot at!' Being at war, it really shouldn't surprise us either, even though it disappoints us, when some of the fiery darts that inflict the deepest wounds come from a direction that we least expect. Which wounded Christ the deeper, the Judas-kiss or the soldier's spear?