Saturday, April 23, 2011

Suffering and Grace

Do I really want any partnership in the sufferings of Christ?

See, there’s this verse in Philippians that says, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” (Philippians 3:10-11)

Paul actually says that he wants to suffer with Christ.

Do you know a single Christian in the world today who prays for suffering to come his or her way?

Somehow, I doubt it.

We generally think that since God is eternally good, all the good things come from him, and any bad things come from the devil.

But my thinking on this point is being challenged.

I read Philippians, which Paul actually writes from prison, and all I see is Paul rejoicing in the midst of his suffering. And then he goes further, and says that he actually desires suffering.

Is it wrong of me to read that and wonder a little bit if Paul was kind of out of his mind?

Because over and over in the third of the New Testament that Paul wrote, he talks about how the Christians of the age should expect suffering, and that suffering for Christ is a good thing.

Not a popular idea in our day and age.

But the Bible pretty much assures us that nothing happens without first passing through the hands of God. That his nod of approval precedes everything that happens.

Even the bad stuff.

And Paul states that the suffering he is facing and the Philippians face is graced to them.

Suffering = grace ?


There’s this book that is pretty much revolutionizing my thinking about suffering and joy, written by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts.

In the book she says, “When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt, but I who am in his great debt, then doesn’t all become gift?”


“What in the world, in all this world, is grace? I can say it certain now: All is grace. I see through the woods of the world: God is always good, and I am always loved. God is always good, and I am always loved. Everything is eucharisteo.”

And my prayer is for eyes to see.

To be able to say, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).

To see all the tough times faced through the murky darkness, and to know that God is there in the midst of it all.

I want to see.

I want to be content in all circumstances.

I want to rejoice in the Lord always.

I want to see.

I want to know Christ, and the power of his resurrection, and through that power, to share in his sufferings.

I just want to see.

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