Sharing in suffering

This past Wednesday I had breakfast with a friend.  I have been having breakfast on Wednesdays with this friend quite regularly for several months now.  Her life has not been an easy one and it continues to be challenging.  There’s really nothing I can do to alleviate her situation.  But I spend time with her and I listen.  We share our experiences.  I enjoy her company and she enjoys mine.

I was thinking about our relationship after leaving breakfast this past Wednesday.  I was thinking about how I cannot take away my friend’s suffering but I can be present with her in the midst of it.  And I think there’s strength and encouragement that come from that ‘seemingly’ simple act.

I was reminded of this verse and it took on a new meaning for me: I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of  sharing in his sufferings {emphasis mine}…” (Philippians 3:10, NIV) I used to always think to “share in Christ’s sufferings” referred to my personal suffering.  But perhaps it means more than that.  Maybe to “share in the sufferings of Christ” also means to share in the suffering of others.

Matthew 25: 37-40 says “‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me {emphasis mine}.’ (NET)