As you reflect on the people in your life, are there any individuals who have endured hardship to present you with better opportunities? Perhaps when you were growing up your mother or father often went without to ensure you never would. Did your husband or wife work long hours to provide for the family while you went to school for the career you love? Is there someone else who suffered for your sake?
We have a greater appreciation for the things we have or the places we are as a result of the suffering of a friend or family member. The Apostle Paul endured tremendous suffering throughout the course of his ministry. He describes these afflictions in his second letter to the Corinthians. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:24-28 ESV)
We are so thankful that Paul was willing to endure these hardships for the cause of Christ. The gospel message reached the ends of there earth as a result of his suffering. We have the ability to know Jesus today because Paul counted his suffering for Christ as joy. Take some time to reflect on those who have suffered for your sake, especially those who have suffered so that you would know Jesus. Pray for them that they might know their suffering produced an eternal reward. Look for opportunities to share Christ where God has you in life. Count all suffering for His sake as joy and remember that we will rejoice when His glory is revealed (1 Peter 4:13)!