I have a God chair. God doesn’t sit on it, I do. This is the chair I use when having my quiet-times. But on this day I wasn’t praying. Instead I was staring out into space, my mind wandering all over the place…mostly negative places. It had been a discouraging week at the church. I asked myself, “Why do I keep doing this? I feel unappreciated, disrespected, misunderstood, and resisted by the very people I’ve been called to love, serve, and pastor.” As soon as I was done with my pity-party I heard Jesus say, “I know exactly how you feel.”
My first response was to think, “Yeah right.” But the more I reflected, the more his words seemed true. I don’t know if Jesus felt unappreciated but he certainly was unappreciated. Jesus was disrespected, misunderstood, and resisted by those he came to serve. I said, “Well Jesus, I guess we have something in common.” I’m not exactly sure he found humor in my sarcasm. I hope so.
In Philippians 3:10 Paul (while sitting in prison no less) said that his greatest desire was to, “…know Jesus, to know the power of his resurrection, and to know the fellowship of his suffering.” Those five final words always stood out to me, “the fellowship of his suffering.” In fact, I’m not sure I ever really understood them until after I’d been in the ministry for a while.
When I suffer in similar ways to how Jesus suffered, we (Jesus and I) have those “sufferings” in common. These sufferings, frustrations, and discouragements are points of fellowship between Jesus and I. Could this be what Paul meant by the “fellowship of his sufferings”? Was Peter referring to this when he talked about “…sharing in the sufferings of Christ…”? (I Peter 4:13)
Can you relate? Have you ever wondered why you stay in the ministry? Do you feel unappreciated, disrespected, misunderstood, and resisted? Quiet, listen…can you hear it? Can you hear Jesus say, “I know exactly how you feel?” Allow Jesus to turn your discouragement into a point of fellowship between you and him. Fellowship with Christ results in endurance from Christ. Hang in there.