“…and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” Col. 1:24
As if Christ’s suffering was not quite enough, Paul had to fill up what was still lacking by his own suffering in the flesh. This is rather puzzling, isn’t it? If that were so, does it mean that we must do the same thing as the apostle once did, which was to suffer afflictions for Christ’s sake?
Wasn’t the suffering of Christ on the cross all sufficient and nothing more was needed to be done to secure salvation for people then and now, and the ones who are to come? Did Christ really mean it was finished when he uttered with his last breath from the cross, “It is finished.”
The mighty work of salvation was indeed finished some two thousand years ago, yet our suffering on Christ’s behalf isn’t finished, and it will never be finished until the day Christ returns.
Why hasn’t the suffering ended, then? We may be asking. The answer to this is rather simple: Until the glorious day when we are delivered from this sinful flesh and from the world torn up by sin, we will continue to suffer afflictions of all sorts, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Isn’t this what we are experiencing at the present time?
What we can hope for at best is to have a longer respite between our afflictions so that we can store up enough physical and emotional energy to endure pain when it arrives, and sufficient spiritual strength to overcome the inner weariness and dryness that usually come along with sorrow and suffering.
In a small congregation such as ours, some of our members seem to have experienced enough suffering to “fill up” what was lacking in regard to Christ’s suffering. God’s people continue to suffer pain even after they have been redeemed, for they haven’t been completely saved. The Lord saved us from the dominance and damnation of sin, yet we are yet to be saved from our flesh and the tyranny of the world. We have been saved, yet continue to be saved, and it does looks like Christ’s redemption is yet to be finished, doesn’t it?
I hate to be pessimistic and be a bearer of bad news, but suffering is inevitable and affliction will fall our way sooner or later but, as days go by and years pass, the gap between Christ’s suffering and our affliction will ultimately be filled up and suffering will be no more.