God never promised to remove our suffering.
Jesus affirmed this unpleasant reality.
I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world [My conquest is accomplished].
John 16:33 Amplified
That’s probably not welcome news because the stuff you’re going through is tough. Be undaunted? Be filled with joy? Not our first response.
And, Paul kicks us while we’re down by adding,
We know Christ better by suffering.
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things… that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.
Phil 3:8,10 NASB
What does it mean to know Christ by sharing in His suffering?
We usually think of Jesus’ physical suffering on the cross, as it should be, but let’s consider some of Jesus’ emotional suffering:
Does that pain sound familiar? Be encouraged,
Jesus identifies with our suffering.
Those who experience similar trials have a special connection. They understand one another. Likewise, we know Jesus better by suffering in ways He suffered.
Better yet, Jesus gave pain purpose. He turned foolishness into wisdom, weakness into strength, and helplessness into power. He used suffering to win grace for us. He transformed the pain of this world by shining a light at the end of our suffering. Victory.
Let’s revisit John 16:33, the scripture at the beginning of this post. In summary:
In me you can have peace during suffering if you are confident in the victory that has already been accomplished.
We know Jesus better, find peace in our pain, and discover the power of His victorious resurrection by joining Him in suffering. It’s part of His plan to establish His Kingdom on earth.
Victory is responding to an insult with kindness.
Victory is turning the other cheek.
Victory is loving your enemy.
Jesus doesn’t need our help to claim victory, but invites us to join Him. This example helped me understand:
Because of the personal love of the Lord towards us, we can in fact make a very real addition to His plan of salvation by uniting our sufferings to His saving Cross, just as a little child can make a very real addition to the construction of her mother’s cake when she lovingly allows her to add the eggs, flour and salt. While the mother could do it all unaided, the child’s addition is real and meaningful, as the love of the mother meets the cooperation of the child to create something new and wonderful. In the same way, God permits our sufferings, offered up, to make an indelible mark in His work of Salvation.
– Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, The Authentic Transformation of ‘Useless’ Human Suffering
- Name a current point of pain in your life.
- Reframe your response in light of Jesus’ victory over pain.
- Describe your impact for the Kingdom.
This is the 4th and final post in our series on Philippians 3:2-10. Let’s wrap it up with the Message translation of the complete passage:
Steer clear of the barking dogs, those religious busybodies, all bark and no bite. All they’re interested in is appearances—knife-happy circumcisers, I call them. The real believers are the ones the Spirit of God leads to work away at this ministry, filling the air with Christ’s praise as we do it. We couldn’t carry this off by our own efforts, and we know it—even though we can list what many might think are impressive credentials. You know my pedigree…
The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.
I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself.
Read earlier posts in the series here:
Don’t be a dog: how to receive right standing before God,
Don’t talk rubbish: when strong language is holy,
What does it mean to know Jesus as Lord?
#seedsofscripture #readthebiblebetter #apostlePaul #philippians3 #purposeinpain #knowingChrist #knowingJesus