The suffering of the world is what I call a common suffering. It is a depressing, I-want-to-die, why-was-I-born, hopeless, empty, lonely, cold suffering. The suffering of a chosen vessel of God is what I call a peculiar suffering because it is set apart for the peculiar people. (1 Peter 2:9)
The suffering of the world is comfortless; the suffering that comes with obedience to the call, purpose and will of God comes with consolation. And what is that consolation? Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for God is with me! (Psalm 23:4) Hallelujah! I am not alone!
There is an intimacy with God that is reserved for only those who Suffer. It is a special hug. It is an embrace so tender that is hidden from and inaccessible to those who have never been tried. Paul had been there. He was deliberate when he used the term ‘fellowship’ with regard to Christ’s Suffering in Philippians 3:10. He also wrote in Romans 8:17, to remind us that when we suffer with Christ we will also be glorified together – note that we suffer with. There is a togetherness with Christ that brings sweet consolation in our afflictions. When I suffer in the will of God I get front row seats to a revelation of His comforting capacity that other humans and even some Christians don’t get. I am blessed to be afflicted because I get with it an equivalent level of consolation.
And what is more, the comfort I receive from the Holy Spirit, I get to share with others who are going through their afflictions! What a privilege! What an honour! What an awesome blessing!