Suffering for Christ

Posted on 07. Jan, 2014 by in Faith, Suffering

It’s been a long time since I posted, but I feel that it is time to get back on the  horse and begin sharing the things the Lord puts on my heart.  The easiest place to start is to post little snippets from my daily reading, so that is what I’ll do now!

I’ve been reading in Philippians the last few days, and today brought me to Philippians 1:29:

   “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,” (Philippians 1:29, NASB95)

Interesting what Paul states here.  He gives us two things that we have been granted.  The first one we would all agree is a good thing, to believe in Him.  The second thing, however, takes some consideration!  It has been GRANTED to us to suffer for His sake!  I have always said that “he never promised us a rose garden” (the title of a song by a group called Three-in-One from my home town of Leoti, KS), and I have always maintained the truth taught elsewhere in the New Testament that suffering produces growth in our walk with God (I’ll delve into this topic in more depth later).  This morning, however, I was a little bit surprised to read Paul’s verbiage, that the suffering is intentional!  Now, this does not mean that God causes tragedy in our lives.  Believe me, walking separate from the world, seeking after Christ, brings plenty of suffering and adversity without needing those kinds of things.  The point is that God intends us to walk through adversity, He intends us to suffer, because it is in our suffering that we are forged more and more into the image of Christ.  A couple of verses come to mind:

   “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2–3, NASB95)

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NASB95)

These are just two of the verses in the New Testament that speak to this issue, but there are others.  Again, the idea is that suffering is expected, and we should glory in our sufferings, as they produce Godly fruit in our lives.  Let’s not shrink back from adversity, but rather embrace it with confidence, knowing that we serve the God of creation, and He has already given us the victory.  We simply have to walk it out!

One last verse:

   “But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:32–39, NASB95)  (Emphasis mine)

I will write more later on my experience of walking in faith, as it is much different than I was brought up to believe as a younger Christian.  Suffice it to say for now that it is our faith that ultimately moves God, and it is our faith that helps us through the difficult times (through the suffering), and it is our suffering that ultimately perfects our faith.  We need to see ourselves as victorious ones, as conquerors in Christ (read Joshua for a visual image of the people of God possessing the promised land.  That story has great pertinence to us as the body today).  We are to be those who don’t shrink back from adversity, but meet it head on in faith.