People who study human intelligence say that one of the characteristics that can set one person apart from another is the speed at which a they find a connection between two disparate things.
Take for example: cat and dog. Finding a connection is easy—both are animals, both can be pets, etc.
But take another example: rejoice and suffer? A connection may not be as easy. The Apostle Paul, however, connects the two when he writes: “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you” (Col. 1:24).
The Apostle appreciated that his life was like the life of Jesus. Paul saw himself as a kind of visual aid to the Lord Jesus who gladly suffered for him. Because of that, in turn, Paul himself could gladly endure any hardship for the sake of others. The love that compelled Jesus compelled Paul.
We are, in fact, all debtors to people who rejoiced in suffering. We are debtors to people we know, and people we’ve never seen. We are indebted to parents and grandparents, friends, children, fellow citizens, and to people who have come before us. Take for instance, the church. She made sacrifices for us throughout the ages. The sacrifices of the saints who came before us have been packaged and mailed through time, wrapped in the paper of joy and suffering.
Is it possible for us to not remember these things? Is it possible that life today is too easy? It is possible that now that it is our turn that we might somehow miss out on our chance?
Maybe. But if God, in his goodness, calls you to be a living visual aid of Jesus, of Paul, and of others who rejoiced in suffering, I suspect that you will rise to the occasion. Why? Because you can be confident of this: the same Holy Spirit who lived in Paul, who lived in Jesus, who lived in all the saints before you, now lives in you. That’s something to celebrate!