Recently I was challenged to consider where my mind is when I am in the midst of suffering. The question came in the middle of our study in John dealing with the crucifixion of Jesus.
I can honestly say that I have only faced true suffering two times in my life. Obviously there have been hard times, difficult times, but only two seasons of what I would call true suffering. In the grand scheme of things not much and after really considering those passages of John, surely nothing that compares to the suffering of Christ.
His suffering covered every realm of humanity.
Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. No part of Him and no part of mankind was left untouched by suffering. The beatings, the betrayal of friends, the weight of sin and the wrath of God, that perfect fellowship with the Father and the Spirit being broken. While we may suffer in some of these realms at some point in our lives, He suffered in them all at one time in a magnitude that we aren’t capable of experiencing.
But when we read of that time in His life it is completely clear where His mind was.
When Judas was preparing to betray Him, Jesus was washing His feet.
When the disciples could not even stay awake to pray with Him, He was crying out before God the Father on their behalf for protection from the world and the evil one.
As the soldiers pinned His arms down to pound nails into His flesh, He literally asked God to forgive them.
Stripped naked and laid bare before all, with soldiers casting lots for His clothes and the crowd hurling insults, He granted forgiveness to the thief next to Him.
In the midst of such physical agony He looks down and sees His mother and makes provision for her care.
In the midst of His suffering He wasn’t thinking of Himself, His pain, the unjustness of His situation but of those around Him, family, friend, and foe.
Remember when Jesus came upon the blind man and His disciples asked if the blindness was the result of the man’s sin or that of his parents? Jesus’ reply was that it was not a result of sin but rather “…so that the works of God might be displayed in him…”
There are horrible things that happen in this life. There is pain and suffering that for many of us is unimaginable yet it takes place in the lives of others every day. But no matter how great or how small our suffering may be we are called to take on the mind of Christ and suffer as He suffered.
What He shows us is that even in the midst of suffering we are to look outward, to those around us, and minister to them so that the work of God may be displayed in us just as it was displayed in not only the blind man but perfectly and completely in Christ, in whose life our lives are hidden.