Relational suffering is truly vicarious suffering—suffering due to someone else’s choices or behaviors. Why are the saints of the Lord not exempt from this kind of suffering; didn’t He already bear it?
There is a mystery here:
“I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body” (Colossians 1: 24).
Huh? What? His colossal work on the Cross did not complete the suffering needed in the universe? It wasn’t enough?
Yes, it was enough—for Him. But, no, apparently it wasn’t enough for us. The thing couldn’t be fully understood until those who are called by His name taste of it, too.
The Lord did the lion’s share of it, but He left his saints still to experience some personal, specific, additional suffering around the edges. He left some wheat to be garnered, after His own cosmic plowing and harvest. The purpose? That we might understand at a more visceral depth what it is He did for us. He purposed that we should share the experience of suffering in order to be ever more one with Him for eternity. It has been said that “love is what we’ve been through together.” Rest assured that in all of His perplexing dispensations, the Lord is ever only after increased camaraderie with us—camaraderie in all its fullness. He is the consummate lover. He knows how to do this thing called love.
Vicarious suffering also extends the Savior’s suffering through His saints to the world—even after He returned to heaven. There is bleeding still. We bear in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus. So, homeschool mother, wife, let us be patient and let us trust. Let us yield to His sure hand. His work is ever deep and infinite, both upon us and through us.