… you are choosing to suffer for Christ.
The question really isn’t are you going to choose to suffer for Christ. Rather the question is … will choose to live for Christ?
When you live for Christ, suffering comes.
A kernel of wheat has to die.
A way of life has to be abandoned.
A cross has to be carried.
This morning I am sitting at a local coffee shop. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and all is well in the world. I am not suffering at this moment. But, I will be. And if your sky is blue today, enjoy. But know that suffering will come. When you live for Christ, suffering will come. And it will come as a direct result of your faith.
You don’t need to be afraid of suffering. But you do need to prepare for it. Not by building up backyard bunkers, as some may do, but by aligning your perspective on suffering with God’s perspective.
Suffering for Christ is a present
It has been granted to you… This word granted comes from the same word as grace. Suffering for Christ is a gift. Receive the suffering, not because suffering in itself is a wonderful thing, but because the Giver is wonderful, and good, and trustworthy. When God brings you suffering, receive it from him as a present. Suffering for Christ is a present.
Suffering for Christ is purposeful
for the sake of Christ … There is purpose in the suffering. This is probably the kicker for many of us. Often suffering seems so very pointless and unfair. But suffering is not the goal. Rather, the goal is God’s glory and your joy. For the joy set before him, Jesus endured the cross. You not only get joy, you get growth. Suffering for Christ marks you as a daughter of the King. You are identifying with him in his sufferings and becoming more and more like him. Though the suffering is intense. Look past the momentary affliction toward the promise of glory. Suffering for Christ is purposeful.
Suffering for Christ is predictable
you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake … When you believe in Christ, believe with your whole being, and keep on believing, suffering for Christ will come. You will make choices that make you less wealthy, less popular, less comfortable in this world. There is a cost for following Christ. Suffering for Christ is predictable.
Suffering for Christ is personal
engaged in the same conflict … You will not only hear about others who are suffering for Christ, being persecuted for Christ, but you will face these same challenges. You will face battles … spiritual, emotional, relational, physical, intellectual … that are intensely deep, painful, and supernatural. You will be engaged in your own conflict for the sake of Christ. Suffering for Christ is personal.
Suffering for Christ is public
that you saw I had and now hear I still have. Paul was publicly beaten, arrested, jailed, and then kicked out of town. The Philippians saw this and then they heard about the suffering he continued to face. When you suffer for Christ, people hear about it. Some people will be happy you are suffering. Some people will sympathize with you. And some people will want to know what it is that you have that makes you able to endure such suffering. Suffering is public.
I’m with John Piper. Suffering is part of this life for the Christian. But it’s part of a bigger plan, a glorious plan, a plan for your joy, and God’s glory. There is reward, and gain, and glory, and resurrection.
However, if you are in the midst of suffering, what I want to do is stand with you. You may simply need to grieve right now. You may not be able to think about God’s good purposes in your pain. You may not be able to trace the rainbow. That’s okay. If it would help, write me and tell me about your pain. I will not quote Romans 8:28 to you. I will listen, pray, and probably cry with you.
When you live for Christ, suffering comes. Which of these perspectives is particularly meaningful for you today?
Monday – Friday, we’re gathering at the Riverside walking verse-by-verse through Philippians. If you been here all along, I’d love to hear how this is impacting your life. You can leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you are just joining us … welcome! I am so glad you’re here!