As I have been studying through 2 Timothy, I have been struck by how many times the words suffer (4x), endure hardship (1x), afflictions (1x) and persecution (3x) are mentioned. Paul over and over warns and encourages Timothy about the reality of suffering for Christ's sake.
However, our "flesh" is strongly opposed to suffering. One of the first things we do is cry out, "Why, God? Don't you love me? You must not!" Emotionally, we just can't harmonize suffering with the love of God. We can't help but think that the two just don't go together-that they are separate or unrelated to each other.
Unless you drink in Romans 8:35-39.
"Who (or what) shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written:
'For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' (This is quoted from Psalm 44:22)
Yet, in all these things we are more than conquerers through Him who loved us.
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
May we share in the same persuasion that Paul had regarding suffering and the love of God-that no affliction is separate or unrelated to His love.