O Lord our God, whose blessed Son gave his back to be whipped and did not hide his face from shame and spitting: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen!
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)
The fact that God suffered is still a scandal to many; “The Scandal of the Cross” as it’s referred to throughout history. Really, you want to worship someone that was humiliated, shamed, and executed as a criminal? Shouldn’t God have been able to just save himself? Well, He certainly could have, and the Gospels make clear that the option was there…and they also make clear that it was Jesus’ choice to die: “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” (John 12:27). Christ suffered willingly, and we can take heart in that. When we suffer (not ‘if’), we are joined to Christ’s suffering, and He, through the cross, has somehow made suffering glorious. It was his very suffering and death that brought victory and life to us all. Therefore we can, by God’s grace, “accept joyfully” the suffering of our life: bringing us closer to Christ and revealing our true hope, resurrection life forever.