“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” Philippians 1:29
I’ve been reading this verse every day for the past several weeks, and my eyes always linger there. I think we’ve convinced ourselves that “suffering for his sake” is what martyrs do. I disagree. While martyrdom is certainly something that some believers are called to as His representatives, I believe there are other ways in which our suffering can help others to see Him.
Chronic illness? Show your faith in His grace which is sufficient. 2 Cor. 12:9
Suffering great loss? Demonstrate that you do not sorrow as others who have no eternal hope. 1 Thess 4:13
Severe depression? Point others to the hope you have in Christ. Psalm 42:5
We are often quick to use the phrase “It’s not about me”…usually when blessings abound, and perhaps we wish to bring praise to God and not ourselves. In suffering, however, we can easily become forgetful. Then, more than ever, we must have our hearts and minds grounded, firmly fixed on the unchanging truth of God’s word. God is always purposeful, so even in suffering He is at work. Sometimes the work is in you, sometimes it is through you for the sake of others.
“Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” 2 Cor. 3:2,3
When God is seen, high and lifted up, even in the midst of our trials– that is when our faith gains precious credibility. We “come forth as gold” and God is glorified by others because of our testimony of loving trust. When what people observe in our lives is uncommon, inexplicable, astonishing, against-human-reasoning faith…not just “doable faith” (the kind that is merely a polite nod to Christianity, but is never stretched, tested, or weighed in the balance)… THAT is when our lives become a catalyst…we become salt and light, as He intended all along. Our suffering can be the lens through which others see that God is real.
I want that. Do you?
At any cost?
Worth thinking about.