That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. Phil 3:10
I often wonder how we really have fellowship in Christ’s sufferings. I know that we do – but when Paul says that he wants to know more of Christ, and of the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to his death… what does that look like in real life?
Well I think I got a bit closer this week. I was reading Psalm 22 and looking at how David is distressed and comforts himself, but when I studied it I realised that this is talking about Christ.
The whole Psalm is considered by most to be Jesus Christ crying out to God in His suffering on the cross, comforting Himself with truth, and then praising God after He is delivered. So we can learn more of Christ’s sufferings through reading this Psalm (you can read Matthew 27:35, 1 Peter 1:10-12 and Luke 24:25-27 if you are not sure that it is referring to Him).
We can identify with what He went through, and not only that but the process by which He fought distress and despair, which I think we can learn a lot from. Here are some of the thoughts He goes through in the Psalm.
1. We can be distressed about God (v1-2)
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning?
O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
And in the night season, and am not silent.
2. We can draw comfort from truth about God (v3-5)
But You are holy,
Enthroned in the praises of Israel.
He remembers what God has done in the past, and how he delivered generations of Israelites before. We can do the same and remember how God has answered our prayers and helped other people.
Our fathers trusted in You;
They trusted, and You delivered them.
They cried to You, and were delivered;
They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.
3. We can be distressed about ourselves (v6-8)
But I am a worm, and no man;
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
All those who see Me ridicule Me;
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
“He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
4. We can draw comfort from our relationship with God (v9-11)
But You are He who took Me out of the womb;
You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts.
I was cast upon You from birth.
From My mother’s womb You have been My God.
Be not far from Me,
For trouble is near;
For there is none to help.
5. He prays for help and God answers (v12-21)
Many bulls have surrounded Me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.
They gape at Me with their mouths,
Like a raging and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.
For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.
He doesn’t stop there, but goes on to ask for help and deliverance, and then says how He is answered.
But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me;
O My Strength, hasten to help Me!
Deliver Me from the sword,
My precious life from the power of the dog.
Save Me from the lion’s mouth
And from the horns of the wild oxen!
You have answered Me.
6. He turns to praising God (v22-31)
I think this Psalm is such a good example of how to deal with trials, doubts and temptations. We need to remind ourselves of truth about God and our relationship with Him to help us with this. And to know that Christ went through these things should be a great encouragement to us.
Also to remember the hope we have in Christ – because of Him we can have victory over sin on this earth, and ultimately we will have victory over death when our souls are risen again and we become like Him in glory.
I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
You who fear the Lord, praise Him!
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel!
For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from Him;
But when He cried to Him, He heard.
My praise shall be of You in the great assembly;
I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
Those who seek Him will praise the Lord.
Let your heart live forever!
All the ends of the world
Shall remember and turn to the Lord,
And all the families of the nations
Shall worship before You.
For the kingdom is the Lord’s,
And He rules over the nations.
All the prosperous of the earth
Shall eat and worship;
All those who go down to the dust
Shall bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep himself alive.
A posterity shall serve Him.
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation,
They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born,
That He has done this.
Here is one of my favourite songs: 'Oh To See the Dawn' - a beautiful modern hymn about Christ suffering on the cross, and how His becoming sin for us meant that we could be forgiven.
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