We often hear persons say that God “allows suffering” for our good, which we have observed before, but rarely does anyone say that it is a gift. As Paul was admonishing the Philippians to live their life “worthy of the gospel” and not to be “frightened in anything by their opponents”, he adds a most interest statement: “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,” (Philippians 1:27-29). The word “granted” means “a generous gift” as if it were handed to us to keep as a custodian. Not only must our lives clearly represent the gospel we preach, we also have the high privilege and gift of suffering for the sake of Christ!
Later in chapter three, Paul said he “counted everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus…and may share His sufferings” (3:8-11). As a representative of Christ and the gospel of His grace, suffering is given to us as another way for the glory of Christ to shine through us for others to see. Therefore, how we accept and go through suffering is a very critical part of proclaiming Christ and the gospel. Stephen is a powerful example of this in Acts 6 and 7, who in the suffering of being stoned to death reflected the power and glory of Christ. It was God’s way of defining the guilt of his murderers and beginning the process of convicting the heart Saul. It also was His tool for expanding the church beyond Jerusalem into Judea. For these reasons, we must see the side of privilege and generous gift we have in suffer for the sake of Christ.
Don’t look for suffering. Receive it as a gift when God sends it and let Him use it in you for His glory and purposes.
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