Suffering for the Sake of Others

Yesterday was Memorial Day: A day of remembering those who died while serving their country. Veterans Day (November 11) remembers all who served in the military, not only those who died.

This post does not celebrate war. It does celebrate the greatest of all sacrifices – to give one’s life for the sake of what is loved. On Memorial Day, what is loved are people. At times, what is loved and sacrificed for may be enduring values. Sacrifice may be for the love of a group of people or for a nation. Today, we remember soldiers who died so that others may live free. I referred to the movie Saving Private Ryan in our Get Real series. It is a vivid story on this topic that you may want to watch.

Some suffering is done as a thing of love and beauty. This is suffering that is willingly embraced and endured for the sake of others.

Of course, Jesus is the supreme example of such suffering. His suffering was a sacrifice. His suffering was redemptive. The sacrifice of Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. He died. The sacrifice of Jesus was redemptive. He died so that others would live. See Hebrews 12:1-2 and 9:11-10:18 for a longer explanation.

The full meaning of redemption is to save someone from their sin. That was a redemption only Jesus could do on the cross. But there are other “milder” and “lesser” redemptions. That is when you pay a price for the sake of another. You make a sacrifice for the well-being of another.

In Colossians 1:24-2:3, the Apostle Paul describes how his ministry was a ministry of suffering for the sake of others:

“Now I rejoice in my suffering for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body …”

There is deep and perplexing mystery in this passage. We can agree on this essential meaning: Suffering is always involved for the flourishing of others.

1. Why do I suffer?
2. What is God doing in my suffering?
3. What am I to do with this suffering I have?

In this case:

1. You are suffering for the sake of others.

2. God is giving you strength to do what is needed. God is giving you a profound opportunity to move to the deepest levels of love. God is helping others through your suffering.

3. You endure, persevere, and commit yourself to Christ. You find strength in Christ. You consider the greater good for those you love. You anticipate a greater reward that is not just for you, but for the sake of the ones you love.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 (NIV)

This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. John 15:13 (The Message)

Today, I am grateful for all who have had this very great love, this very great suffering.

Today, I pray that by God’s grace I may be prepared to offer whatever God asks of me, for the sake of others. I am under no illusion as to how hard this may be.

Following hard after Christ,
Pastor Brian


Brian Rice

What I love most about my job:

Having the ability to empower and resource leaders to bear much fruit that lasts. Being a part of a team of friends and missional servants committed to changing the world.
Brian Rice

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