“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 1:29).
If there is one thing in the Scripture we don’t want to consider, but that the scripture repeats over and over, it’s the idea that we must suffer for the sake of Christ. Suffering is something we must endure. Suffering is something we cannot avoid, but try to lessen. How can something so unpleasant be God’s will for our lives? Don’t God’s blessing mean something better than suffering? Can it be just a little suffering here and there, but not a way of life?
Paul answers all of these questions with a single word. Pay close attention, because you are not going to like it. I mean, you’re really not going to like it. “It has been GRANTED to you…”
Wait. Suffering has been granted? You mean, granted, like a gift? Granted like an endowment? In fact, that is exactly what I mean because that is exactly what Paul means. And who better than the apostle Paul to use this kind of language? Because Paul knew that he had been granted suffering as a gift when Jesus said, “I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:16). Paul took his suffering as a model for his readers to follow, for right after noting his suffering he says to his readers that he is, “Engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have” (Philippians 1:30).
Think of the people whom you really admire. Not just personal friends, but people in history. People that you regard as great leaders or examples. I’m willing to be that many of them, if not all of them, went through some kind of great tragedy in their lives that molded them into the people they became. Why? Because, no one admires a man who sits comfortably on his chair, flipping through the channels on his TV. We respect and honor hard work, sacrifice, endurance, yes, even suffering.
What kind of person do you want to become? Suffering may be the key to becoming that kind of person.
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (I Timothy 6:12).
What are you ready to give up or sacrifice for the kingdom of God? Consider how you can alter your life so that the Gospel of Jesus becomes your greatest pursuit.