Conformity to Christ in Suffering

In his book, Why Does it Have to Hurt?: The Meaning of Christian Suffering, Dan McCartney has some very thoughtful words commenting on 1 Pet 2:4-9:

The foundation stone, “capstone” (v.7), or “cornerstone” (v.6) is clearly Jesus.  As Peter points out, the Old Testament prophesied that people would reject this one on whom the people of God (God’s house) would be built.  How could a sufferer be the foundation stone?  The idea of a suffering Messiah was unacceptable to most Jews.  Yet it was precisely this rejected suffering Messiah whom God chose as the “foundation stone.”  Peter goes on to point out that, just as people rejected the chief stone, so they will reject all other “stones” who are connected to him.

Is it not strange how people turn away from others who are suffering, so that the sufferer suffers twice – first the pain and loss itself and then the loss of friends?  Jesus himself in the moment of his greatest affliction was abandoned by most of his friends.  Sometimes, that happens to us.  As the chief stone suffered, all the stones can expect to suffer. Yet the chief stone and the other stones as well, by virtue of their connection to him, are precious to God (vv. 4, 9), in spite of, or perhaps even because of, their suffering and rejection.

This is a great mystery here.  Somehow suffering connects Christ to us and us to Christ, and this is what enables us both to know that he shares in our experience of suffering and to share in his sufferings and glory.  Suffering is what made Jesus the foundations tone of his people.  Suffering is also what makes us stones that are built on that foundation.

Pgs. 62-63 (Bold emphasis added)

Though this does not somehow make suffering fun, it at least challenges the all-so-natural but counter productive mindset that we typically adopt in suffering.  It shows us that our suffering still falls within God’s providential care and that somehow he is indeed using it for his glory and for our good.  In his book 7 Truths that Changed the World, my colleague Kenneth Samples also has a very helpful discussion of this very topic.  (See “Dangerous Idea #7: The Good in Suffering.”)

Rev. R. Andrew Compton
Christ Reformed Church (URCNA)
Anaheim, CA