Today I wanted to go over the topic of having Christ-like Grit in the face of suffering. I chose the word grit because it means courage and resolve, and in this case in the face of suffering. The reason I feel like the topic is important is two fold. One, because I feel the Lord is leading me to talk about it and Two, because I had recently went through a little suffering of my own. I recently got sick with Covid and it took some time to get through it. I was coughing really bad and had the chills like no other. But the whole time I was reaching out to God and asking Him to heal me. Now I wasn’t just asking out of blind hope that maybe He would heal me because just a few weeks ago I had seen my sister get her ankle healed. She had hurt it and was in so much pain that I had to help her get back inside the house. Then we prayed in faith and all the pain left her foot. She was even able to walk around on it again. So I knew in my heart that the Lord was able to heal me, but for whatever reason I never got that instant healing I was looking for. In that process of hoping and waiting on the Lord I learned a lot. I learned that I am impatient, and that in the end the Lord is sovereign and will do what He pleases. Sometimes we can get in the attitude that our prayers get answered because of who we are, rather than seeing them as a petition to our God. He is the one with the power. This leads me to my first point about having Christ-like grit, which is that we need to recognize that God is greater and His will is supreme. This is what Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane.
And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”Mark 14:36 NASB1995
Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane asking the Lord to take the cup of crucifixion from Him, but Jesus knew that the Father’s will was more important than His. We need to adopt this attitude. Sometimes the Lord will ask us to do things that we don’t like or things that make us uncomfortable but we must defer to His will. This is a type of suffering. To let your will and plan for your life die on the altar of God’s will. And this brings me to my next point in having Christ-like grit, it is that there are many types of suffering we must face, just as Christ did.
They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him.Mark 15:19 NASB1995
And they *crucified Him, and *divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man should take.Mark 15:24 NASB1995
Jesus had to go through immense physical suffering on the cross and even before that. But He endured it because it was the will of God. Sometimes we too go through physical suffering for the will of God. For most of history, Christians have faced persecution that involved being tortured or killed. The early church in Rome faced terrible persecution at the hands of Emperor Nero. They were fed to lions in the colosseum and burned at the stake in the emperor’s garden. It was a terrible time for Christians. But that is part of the package deal of Christianity. The darkness will try to snuff out the light, and the light must endure this persecution while still staying in love.
And He *took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. And He *said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.”Mark 14:33-34 NASB1995
At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”Mark 15:34 NASB1995
Jesus also had to endure much emotional pain and suffering. He had to face the fear and anxiety of going to the cross when He was in the Garden. He had to face the sense of abandonment when He was on the cross, even asking God why He had been forsaken. Jesus endured much in terms of emotional pain, and we too are called to endure this. Whether that is because of spiritual warfare and the demonic attack on our lives, or from persecution from the world. We will face that kind of emotional suffering but we also have a solution to it. See how when Jesus left the garden, the Father had given Him a peace that helped Him through the trauma. He was strengthened by His Father in prayer. And we too need to do this when we experience emotional suffering.
Then Pilate questioned Him again, saying, “Do You not answer? See how many charges they bring against You!” But Jesus made no further answer; so Pilate was amazed.Mark 15:4-5 NASB1995
When Jesus was brought before the leaders of the temple and before Pilate, He had to suffer false accusation. We too as Christians will have to suffer this kind of pain, which I call social pain. It is the pain of being an outcast for Christ. The pain that comes with being falsely accused because of your faith, and having to endure this pain quietly. The Christian faith is under constant attack from the world, and yes we do sometimes address these attacks but most of the time we remain quiet. We turn the other cheek as Jesus would say.
Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.Mark 15:29-32 NASB1995
As you can see from the verse above, Jesus had to endure a kind of suffering of His Ego or pride. Now I am not saying that Jesus had anykind of pride in Him, but rather that He had to endure mocking of who He was. Jesus Himself knew that He was the son of God and I believe it was probably a difficult temptation to endure, as He himself said that He could call a legion of angels to rescue Him if He wanted. He had to endure people attacking Him with their words. And we are called to suffer in the same way. We will have people who attack us and mock us for following Christ.
Now by no means are these categories the extent of the suffering that Christians endure, but it is a good baseline for knowing what will happen to us. Mind you, it is nothing that our Lord and Savior hasn’t already gone through. He can relate to what we go through because He also had to go through it. But in the end He recieved His reward at the right hand of the Father. Which brings me to my last point, which is that we too will recieve a reward for our suffering.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.Matthew 5:10-12 NASB1995
Jesus told us that we are blessed if we are persecuted for the sake of righteousness because we shall receive a reward in Heaven for it. And this is the scripture that we need to arm ourselves with in the face of persecution. We need to remember that everytime we get persecuted, we will deposit another treasure into our heavenly fund. Now this doesn’t mean we should seek out persecution, but rather that we will have a sense of hope in the darkness of persecution.