There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting. Philippians 1:35 (The Message Bible)
Wow. Suffering is a gift. Kinda blows the mind a bit.
Lately, I keep ‘happening’ onto these passages about reasons for suffering. Here’s another reason. Because it furthers the gospel.
It’s not that we should be fake and suffer through, gritting our teeth so we can be icons of steadfastness in the eyes of others. That’s religion and hypocrisy and not Spirit and Truth. We should be real in our trials. We should be honest in our struggles.
That way, as people watch us go through our painful things and sufferings, working through them WITH Christ, even if we don’t do everything just right, if we’ll keep going back to Him, even in failure, again and again, they can still SEE Jesus and gain strength in their own walk with Him.
That’s the gospel, more so than the 1-2-3 way-too-organized and dead thing we give people at an altar call.
In this passage in Philippians, Paul was in prison. He was suffering enough that he wasn’t sure he was going to live. But his suffering spurred others on and made them more sure in their own faith and walk. The enemy intended to shut him up and quiet him by locking him away, but it had the opposite effect, and he was able to share Jesus with a number of others.
The enemy intends that our sufferings should bowl us over and keep us down and shut us up and imprison us in chains of anger, bitterness or self-pity. But God is well able to sock the enemy in the snout and to take a horrible thing and turn it to something good and use it in the lives of others to further His Son in the hearts of others.
Suffering is a gift.
I couldn’t have said that for some months after my stroke when the suffering was still intense. But Jesus really does bring peace to stormy waves, and works the bad into the good for those who love Him.