Philippians 1:29-30 – 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, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
The Apostle Paul told the Philippian church to expect to suffer for the sake of Jesus. This suffering was granted to them. It was granted, or given, to them. It was a gift! Not many people would consider suffering to be a gift, but suffering for Christ is a gift according to Paul. Listen to what he wrote to the Colossians.
Colossians 1:24-25 – I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you.
Paul is not a masochist who enjoyed pain. He specifically prayed for relief from an affliction he called his “thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-8).” Yet Paul rejoices in suffering for Christ. Christ is the difference, and He is worth it.
Suffering is natural for those who live in opposition to the world. There are two kinds of people: those who repent from their sin and others who rejoice in it. God’s people are to be eager for holiness, and the world hates us for it. “Stop calling it sin!” they cry. The darkness of the world hates the light of truth found in God and His Word, and the world lashes out against those who celebrate Jesus Christ.
Paul also understood his suffering clarified the gospel to the lost. It is one thing to talk about Jesus, but suffering and even dying for the cause of Christ confirms the gospel. One convincing display of our Christianity is when God’s faithful people suffer well. We do not mourn like the world, because we have true hope in eternal life. We are able to boldly endure persecution, because we understand the spiritual battle before us. We can even love our enemies, because we know we would be just like them except Christ has already redeemed us. Our response to suffering and persecution should startle people who do not know God like we do.
Pray for persecuted Christians around the world and for Christians suffering in our midst. God still does miracles, and He sometimes allows us to endure difficult situations. He is sovereign, and He is good even in our suffering. May His grace and mercy be yours in abundance, and may the gospel of Jesus Christ progress in and through you.