“It is finished,” Jesus announced. That doesn’t mean His death ends suffering. His pain gives meaning to ours. He suffered so we can suffer with Him and in Him.
Jesus didn’t suffer so we can endure afflictions. He suffered so we can rejoice in afflictions, because for those of us in Christ all suffering is folded into Jesus’ conquest of sin and death.
You battle and conquer a besetting sin, and Jesus adds another piece of territory to His kingdom. You are full of joy and hope through a long, painful illness, and the power of the cross shines through. You rejoice when a believer dies, and you join in Jesus’ taunt-song over the grave.
Like Paul’s, our suffering “fills up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” because our afflictions extend the triumph of the cross.