Rejoicing in Afflictions
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God (Colossians 1:24-25)
The Apostle Paul suffered many persecutions for the sake of the Gospel and on behalf of the church. He explained that he was a minister or servant to the church to fulfill the word of God. Leaders are often required to experience uncomfortable times of sacrifice that are not required of the general believer.
Paul wasn't implying that God sends persecution and problems. He knew that Satan had assigned a fallen angel to attack him at every turn. Paul was a conspicuous leader of the early church, so the devil went after him more than the average believer.
Paul wrote that understanding his place in leadership allowed him to rejoice in his sufferings. Could you imagine that? Think of just a few of the sufferings Paul endured: he rejoiced in the midst of a shipwreck; he rejoiced while people were stoning him; he rejoiced as Roman soldiers beat him. Rejoicing has nothing to do with your outside circumstance; it has to do with your inward stance. Paul's position was that his sacrifice and fight of faith in those moments were helping the church to grow and flourish. He rejoiced by looking forward to what God was doing for the church at large.
The Bible says that Jesus was able to endure the cross because of the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus could rejoice on the cross because He knew that His momentary pain would result in an eternal family for God, made up of people like you and me.
Practical Application – Are you dealing with some affliction or pressure from outside sources? Stop and rejoice that God planned your deliverance before you even experienced the problem.
2 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 1:7