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Introduction: In the Crucible with Christ — 17 Comments

  1. I have interacted with a lot of people who have experienced suffering. Sometimes a person finds comfort in knowing that their suffering is not as bad as what some other people go through. But other people experience added distress from thinking that they shouldn't be as impacted as they are because their suffering is not as bad as other people's. Or worse, some people are told by others they shouldn't be as impacted as they are because others are worse off than them.

    Comparison of whose suffering is worse tends to have a detrimental rather than beneficial impact in more instances than not. And in reality it is actually very hard, perhaps even impossible, to accurately compare one person's suffering with another's. What has been your experience with this?

    Is it more important to know that God suffered worse than us or that God willingly exposed Himself to suffering in order to help us amid our suffering and ultimately rescue and heal us from suffering.

    • Phil, I appreciate your contribution. You essentially echo the counsel of the Apostle Paul in 2 Cor. 10:12 where he says that those "comparing themselves among themselves are not wise." Thank you for putting context to this concept.

      However, I believe that Paul's counsel explicitly applies to "comparing themselves among themselves" not to comparing ourselves to Christ, because Christ is the only standard of righteousness. I believe it's necessary to consider how we compare to Christ so that we may properly appreciate His character and His sacrifice and thus be led to the humility that allows Him to save us.

      Comparing our suffering to Christ's suffering can put things in perspective - especially when we realize that the strength that He exercised in overcoming He freely offers to us if we want it.

      • Hi Inge

        You are correct when you say "I believe that Paul's counsel (in 2 Corinthians 10:12) explicitly applies to "comparing themselves among themselves" not to comparing ourselves to Christ..."

        Consequently, to clarify, my comment was not intended to echo the counsel of Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:12 which I too find to be talking about an entirely different situation and circumstance. Thus, what I was raising was not putting context to the 2 Corinthians 10:12 concept.

          • Hi Inge

            Thanks for asking for clarification.

            If you understand me to be saying that it is always detrimental to compare our sufferings to Christ, then no, that is not what I am saying. Hence my reference to those who do and those who don't - and my use of qualifiers "tend to... in more instances than not". What I am saying is that there are people for whom this form of comparison (yours is worse than mine or mine is worse than yours) is a detrimental rather than beneficial experience - either because they themselves are comparing in a way that is detrimental or because others have used that comparison towards them in a way that is detrimental for them.

            I am therefore raising awareness of the occurrence of this because I find it is an issue that a significant proportion of people experience. And in raising informed awareness, hopefully foster greater mindfulness of the use of this form of comparison. For example, rather than someone saying "when we suffer we should consider how Christ suffered worse", they could perhaps say something along the lines of "when I suffer, I personally find comfort in knowing that Christ suffered even more than me and therefore is well familiar with what I am going through. However I understand that others may not find such comparison useful and instead draw comfort from ..."

            Some may feel I am overstating the degree to which people are detrimentally impacted by the type of comparison I have mentioned. All I can say is that I have interacted with a lot of people over the past approximately 30 years and it is the vast proportion that find such comparison that I have mentioned non-beneficial. I am also very aware that we are now within a time where 'political correctness' is over-the-top so I need to perhaps mention that is not where I am coming from. I am suggesting that we can, based on awareness of the experience of others, be somewhat more mindful of some of the concepts that tend to be embedded within church culture and, as a result, hopefully ostracise people less than has been the case to date.

            • Such an excellent point. So often we are unaware how our words and comparisons leave people feeling like inadequate Christians. Sure we are indeed inadequate but there has to be space where we can feel sure about coming to Christ with our troubles. For years I couldn’t/wouldn’t pray for fear God would not listen to me. I was comparing myself to others who were over the top public with their walk with God. In the crucible with Jesus is an intimate ride and we should encourage others to boldly come to JESUS.

    • I tend to agree with you, Phil. I didn't like that line in the lesson. It's true, and sometimes it's helpful, but it sort of felt like it was saying, "Jesus had it so much worse than you so stop feeling bad!" It is more helpful to realize that Jesus is suffering with me.

      • Interesting how we all read the same words differently. When I think of Christ's suffering, I see how much he loves me and I see that He understands any difficulty I may encounter. I know that He is with me and gives me strength when I ask.

        • Inge, I agree how we all read the same words so differently. Sometimes when I'm feeling dejected, because of life treatments, I remind myself that Jesus suffered much worse just for me. I realize my use of Matthew 16:24 is probably out of context "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me." My suffering is and never will be anything in comparison to what Jesus suffered just for me. I'm not comparing his suffering to mine as a relief that mine isn't as bad as his.

          • Thank you for your testimony, Myron. It also reminded me of a recent testimony of one of our newer church members. He was refusing to do something that seemed too hard to him when he heard a distinct voice asking him, "When Jesus suffered so much for you, can you not do this?" He said, "I was never so ashamed in my life," and it was a turning point for him. (In this case, it was related to his physical as well as his spiritual health. He came back from a lifestyle center a totally transformed man.)

  2. Timely lesson, looking forward to it and to the blessings that come with it. I pray that the lesson for this quarter will strengthen our faith in our loving God who make all things work together for our good. Blessings!!

  3. Introduction by which I identify myself. I am moved by this introduction. I pay attention to this crucible. Because I went through a crucible.

  4. It is helpful to recognize that:
    1. without Christ, we are spiritually helpless and cannot please God [John 15:5; Hebrews 11:6];
    2. IN CHRIST, we become the righteousness of God and can 'do' His will [2 Corinthians 5;21; Phil 4:13];
    3. to be IN CHRIST is to humbly let Him who dwells in us live His life in and do His work through us [John 14:10].

  5. "Of all the gifts that Heaven can bestow upon men, fellowship with Christ in His sufferings is the most weighty trust and the highest honor." Desire of Ages, p. 225.

  6. Many thanks for these lessons. Our family has been through bereavement as well, and may God give comfort to all who are going through, have recently gone through, or will soon (God forbid) go through bereavement. I wonder though, how we should take this week's lesson, since some of our new beliefs as Seventh-day Adventists have tended to be modalist trinitarian (that God takes various roles: As Saviour or Christ, as the Holy Spirit, or as the Father). Can the theologians among us clarify this?

  7. I am trying to find contact info for the author of the lesson on this website but was not able to do so, so I will leave my question here. I am wondering why the author is choosing to use quotes from non-SDA authors like C.S. Lewis and John Oswald Chambers when we have our own messenger from God that has numerous comments on this topic. You should all read "The Desire of the Ages" by Ellen White.

    • Dear Pamela, what you appear to suggest is that we should only read the Bible and Ellen White's writings. If we extend that to our everyday lives, we probably should not talk to anyone either, because as soon as we interact with people, we receive some of their ideas. Books are just a preserved form of stories and ideas of people.

      Bible authors referred to other writings. Ellen White quoted other authors and even recommended some. (Paul Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress comes to mind.) Every truth spoken by humans comes from the Author of truth and light, and there are many gems scattered among other writings that speak to different individuals.

      Certainly reading (or, in my case, re-reading) The Desire of Ages</em> is good for all of us. And if you don't have your own copy, you can click on the link and get one from yourself, so you have it available all the time. Or, when you have access to the internet, you can read it online: <em>Desire of Ages online.


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