The Privilege of Suffering

Helen Roseveare was an English missionary who served in the Congo, enduring imprisonment and torture during its civil war. Of that traumatic time, she said, “I wasn’t praying. I was beyond praying. Someone back home was praying earnestly for me. If I’d prayed any prayer it would have been, ‘My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?’ And suddenly, there was God. I didn’t see a vision, I didn’t hear a voice, I just knew with every ounce of my being that God was actually, vitally there. God in all his majesty and power. He stretched out his arms to me. He surrounded me with his love and he seemed to whisper to me, ‘Twenty years ago, you asked me for the privilege of being a missionary. This is it. Don’t you want it?’
Fantastic, the privilege of being identified with our savior. As I was driven down the short corridor of my home, it was as though he clearly said to me, ‘These are not your sufferings. They’re not beating you. These are my sufferings. All I ask of you is the loan of your body.’ And an enormous relief swept through me. One word became unbelievably clear, and that word was privilege. He didn’t take away pain or cruelty or humiliation. No! It was all there, but now it was altogether different. It was with him, for him, in him. He was actually offering me the inestimable privilege of sharing in some little way the edge of the fellowship of his suffering.
In the weeks of imprisonment that followed and in the subsequent years of continued service, looking back, one has tried to ‘count the cost,’ but I find it all swallowed up in privilege. The cost suddenly seems very small and transient in the greatness and permanence of the privilege.
Can you—will you—believe it and enter into it?”- Helen Roseveare

Does our suffering mean anything? For a Christian who knows the suffering of Christ, it can mean a chance to share in his sufferings for his glory as they serve him with their lives.