Anyway, Jacob posted some of our conversation over at AfrayedKnot. He makes some pretty good points. I'm sure that balance is a key here.
As I look at the scripture I'm not so sure that we should desire suffering, but that we should rejoice in it, when it is for the Name of Christ and the Glory of God. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this lightly. Suffering is very hard to understand sometimes. Even I have had some pretty hard questions for the Lord on this topic. I think your approach to this topic will probably depend somewhat on your personality. And seeing how that I preached a message on Smyrna - the Suffering Church - for last year's Thanksgiving sermon, you might have a clue into mine. :)
But here are a few texts to consider...
Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.
John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
1 Thessalonians 3:1 Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; 2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: 3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. 4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
2 Timothy 3:10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
Acts 5:41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.
What's your take on the Suffering Saints in the U.S.A? Do the godly here suffer? Are we not suffering because we have been blessed by so much freedom? Are we not suffering because we really aren't following the steps of the Master? Maybe a little bit of both? And yet some are suffering even here for their faith in Christ.
Feel free to comment here or even better comment at Jacob's blog.