How well do you know the people you worship with every Sunday? We may worship with people, pray, and even serve with them without ever experiencing a fellowship bond.
Trials and afflictions are used by God to draw us together. They break down barriers between us and destroy the illusion that we are self-sufficient.
John, the apostle of Jesus, wrote to seven suffering churches in Asia. In his letter, the Book of Revelation, John identifies himself as “your brother and companion in suffering… that is ours in Jesus” (Rev.1:9). The word companion comes from the Greek word koinonia from which we get our English word, fellowship.
Because John was a prisoner, suffering incarceration on the Island of Patmos, he could relate to these Christians who were also suffering for the sake of Jesus. We discover another blessing we receive from adversity and trials: a unique, close fellowship with other Christians who are also in the throes of adversity.
Trials and afflictions have a leveling effect on believers. Amid pain and suffering, it does not matter what nationality we are from, whether rich or poor, powerful or weak. When we are suffering, we relate to our brothers on a horizontal level as fellow sufferers.
Consider these exhortations:
2 Timothy 1:8
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.
2 Timothy 2:3
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 5:6-11
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
The Christian life was never intended to be lived in isolation from other believers, so God uses times of adversity to make us vulnerable and open up deeper relationships with each other. One benefit of suffering is the profit it brings to the body of Christ as we come alongside one another in love, support, and prayer.
Have a great Thursday!