Under the communist rule in Hungary, I was working at an architectural design company.
While there, one of my lady co-workers, used to waste much of her time talking and
walking in-and out. Therefore, eventually our group leader called her aside and kindly
asked her to restrain herself.
The lady became very indignant and instead of changing her action, decided to do
something to influence the manager to fire him. For that reason, she began to spread the
news that - due to his faith in God - he has no right to work in a communist institution,
nor chastise her, when he often is wasting the company's time by reading his Bible under
Her plan didn't work, because - although from the his lifestyle and conversation - everyone
in the office knew that he was a devout Christian; yet, they also knew that he
was a hard working, honest, and talented engineer. Therefore, he would never waste the
company's time, even if he read the Bible at his desk. For, he would only read it during
the lunch hour. Which would not hinder his work.
Still - due to this gossip - he still suffered; even though, he didn't loose his job. For, the
lady's attitude, gossip, and attack, plus some people's reaction to her gossip; was still
hurting him. Consequently, we may surmise that - to a certain extent - he partook in
the suffering of Christ.
Once upon a time, the apostle Paul wrote the following to the Philippians: (Philippians 3:7-10)
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ…
And I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge
Of Christ Jesus, my Lord...
That I may know him... and the fellowship of his suffering, being
Made conformable unto his death,
The question may arise: "Is it possible for a simple Christian, like you and me, to
partake in Christ's sufferings?" According to Paul; it is. In several ways.
For example, as people spit on, hit, and crucified Jesus; so - for our faith in him - they
may persecute, make fun of, beat or incarcerate us, or even put us to death
also. After WWII, many people in Communist Hungary, went through such suffering;
including our family. For, in the 1950s, there was a time when we were carefully
listening to the noise of every passing vehicle in front of our house, each night. As during
those nights, many people around us were deported to the country side in the night hours,
for their faith; never to return. Not even mentioning the many countries where serious
Christian persecutions still occur. Thus, we may conclude that - although in some small
degree - but these persecuted Christians did or, to this day, do partake in the
suffering of Christ.
Then, as Christ's heart practically broke from the pain over Jerusalem's sinfulness;
even so we too endure great anguish over our lost loved ones and friends as they
continue to run toward Hell; not even thinking about Jesus and his salvation. I'm
sure, this kind of agony is well known to every totally yielded Christian in different
forms. For, who amongst us didn't agonize yet over a lost child, parent, brother or sister?
Furthermore, who didn't cry out to God for them daily, in tears, asking him to soften their
heart? Obviously, in these cases we participated in Jesus' suffering - to a certain
degree - also.
Our participation in Christ's suffering then maybe spiritual/emotional, or physical.
But in either case may we be encouraged knowing that to suffer with, or for Christ
is a privilege! Paul thought so too. That's why he said to the Philippians Christians:
"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to
suffer for his sake..." (Philippians 1:29) In addition, may we be encouraged by the
knowledge that our suffering for Christ will even be rewarded in Heaven. For in
1 Peter 4:12-13, Romans 8:18, and 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 we read:
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to test
you, As though some strange thing happened unto you, But rejoice, inas-
much as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that, when his glory
shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to
be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet
the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which
is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal
weight of glory.
During the communist rule in Hungary, we had many opportunities to partake in Christ's
sufferings. In addition, many of us are still suffering different kind of persecutions all
over the world, for his name; as the world is filled with people who make fun of, push
aside, or persecute God's children. In addition, agonizing over our lost loved ones and
friends is also a continuous pain for us. Yet, we can be encouraged by knowing that to
suffer for Christ is a privilege. Furthermore, that one day we will receive rewards for
our pain in Heaven.
Therefore, let us move forward with joy for the glory of God.