Let it be settled with us once for all that the sufferings of Christ are an absolute necessity. I am going to say a very strong thing, and it is this – that if you know nothing about the sufferings of Christ, there is something wrong with you as a Christian. I am not, of course, speaking of such as have only just entered upon the Christian life, though suffering is sometimes encountered right from the first. But obedience and faithfulness soon lead to the experience of some form of Christ’s sufferings. If you are avoiding those sufferings, if you are rebelling against them, you are taking an entirely wrong line. They are the true lot of children of God. I do not say that you will each have them in the same measure or of the same kind, but you will have them. Ask the Lord if your bad times may not, after all, fit into this. You have been thinking of them merely as circumstances, as disappointments, working out to your misfortune, your disadvantage. But wait; see whether these are not, after all, bound up with your spiritual life, whether they do not bear a relationship to your spiritual growth. Interrogate yourself, examine this question.
Sufferings are necessary for several things; first of all, to keep things real, practical and up-to-date. The Lord is not going to allow any one of us to live upon a past, upon a theory, upon a tradition, upon a doctrine as a doctrine. He will allow us to live only on what is real and practical and up-to-date, and, being made as we are, we do not so live unless we are made to. If I know even a little about the Lord and the Lord’s things, I can tell you perfectly frankly it is because of suffering. I could not and would not have learned unless the Lord had made me learn, and taught me in a very deep and practical school where things were kept right up-to-date, and where every bit of ministry sprang out of some new experience. It is a law which applies to us all. The fact is that these sufferings are absolutely essential to keep things real; people have a right to ask, ‘How did you get to know that? Have you proved that? How much has that been to you in the deepest hours of life, when things were beyond your power? Did that prove to be true then?’ If we are not able to say with all our heart in utter sincerity, ‘I found the Lord to be like that; I have put that truth to a thorough test and proved it’, then we are frauds. The Lord has no place for frauds; therefore He keeps us up-to-date. Reality is by suffering.