I find great comfort in Hebrews 11:26. Speaking of Moses the author says, “He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.”
When you suffer for the sake of the body of Christ (and isn’t that what pastoral ministry often means?), you experience the same kind of reproach (i.e., scorn, contempt) experienced by Jesus. You are filling up in your flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions (Col. 1:24). And this is of greater worth than all the treasures of Egypt. Why? Because “in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3).
Suffering unites you to Jesus like nothing else, allowing you to experience his strength in your weakness, his grace in your weariness, his love in your rejection, his Spirit in your emptiness. His steadfast love is better than life (Psa 63:3). At his right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psa 16:11).
Charles Wesley beautifully described the treasures found in Christ in his hymn, Thou Hidden Source of Calm Repose:
Jesus, my all in all Thou art,
My rest in toil, my ease in pain,
The healing of my broken heart,
In war my peace, in loss my gain,
My smile beneath the tyrant’s frown,
In shame my glory and my crown.
In want my plentiful supply,
In weakness my almighty power,
In bonds my perfect liberty,
My light in Satan’s darkest hour,
In grief my joy unspeakable,
My life in death, my Heaven in hell.
Jesus is like the treasure hidden in a field that is worth more than a man might give up in order to possess (Matt. 13:44).
The thing is, to experience the reproach of Christ we have to make the same choice Moses made. He chose “rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:25). He chose a superior pleasure over an inferior one. Isn’t that the fight of faith we are called on to wage every day as we lead God’s people?