Widening The Circle of Suffering

circles“I am happy to suffer for you now. In my body I am completing whatever remains of Christ’s sufferings. I am doing this on behalf of his body, the church.”    Colossians 1:24 God’s Word Translation

Donna and I were hiking in east Tennessee today. The weather was nice, mid-80’s with moderate humidity. We were talking about a sign I saw in a Nashville area coffee shop recently that reads, “People are going to hurt you. You have to decide which ones are worth suffering for.” As we managed the occasionally rocky and steep climb back up the path, we were discussing just who we would suffer for.

We named each other, for starters. Good married people begin there and work out. Our daughter made the list, of course. A few in-laws and friends later we were out of specific names of people we would choose willingly to suffer for. I then remarked, “That’s a pretty small circle of suffering. I’m glad Jesus’ circle of suffering encompassed all of humanity for all of time, including us.” We then spoke of missionaries, especially, that wonderfully selfless breed of people who intentionally widen their circle of suffering to include people groups and communities they have no familial connection with for the sake of the Gospel. The world has been changed by missionaries.

Not five minutes later, we passed a young lady on the path with a t-shirt that read, “Pray for Nigeria.” She had a beautiful dark-skinned girl with her, obviously not her own. Since I will be in Lagos next week for a worship tour, I spoke to her and questioned her about the country I’ve come to love. Turns out, she and her husband are missionaries in Jos, a city in northern Nigeria fraught with danger and Christian persecution, where they help young women there find freedom from human trafficking.

I’m just going over to sing. Maybe it’s time to think about widening my own circle of suffering. What about you?

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.