“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. You’re involved in the same kind of struggle you saw me go through, on which you are now getting an updated report in this letter” (Phil. 1:29-30).
Imagine Mr. Fred Rogers in his sweater and sneakers saying something along these lines: Boys and girls, today’s word for the day is suffering. Can you say suffering? Suh-fer-ring.
Most of the time, I am all about the suffering- avoidance mode. I likes my comfort. I don’t likes to suffer in the least.
I think that what drives most of the consumer market is comfort and convenience. That seems to be the American way, especially in American churches.
Still, the American comfortable middle-class Christianity is an anomaly. For most of the world, to proclaim Christ as Lord is to invite suffering. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
If I’m honest, when I read that suffering is a gift, my first thought is where to go to exchange it for something more comfortable and convenient.
But that’s where you and I find God. C. S. Lewis said that God speaks through our pleasures but shouts to us in our pain. Something about suffering clarifies our perspective and gives us better eyes to see God with.
Also, there is no better testimony than seeing someone willing to sacrifice for their faith. Anyone can believe in something that benefits them tangibly, but it’s quite another when you give up family, houses, and land for what you believe. Jesus Himself said that those people would be rewarded a thousand-times over for what they lose, but the loss is still very much present and real.
Christians all over the world are literally laying down their lives for the Gospel. I believe that the day is coming soon when believers in America will face the choice of denying Christ or death. Maybe not in my lifetime, but soon enough.
Will you and I choose suffering to advance the Gospel? Will we choose the painful path if it means that Jesus is glorified in us?
I pray our answer to both these questions is a resounding YES.