The Honor of Suffering

Philippians 1:29   (KJV)   29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake

It is an honor and privilege to believe in our precious Lord and Savior Jesus. Another honor and privilege is one that’s unique; it may take time for some of us to wrap our minds around it, more so, experience it: it’s our inevitable suffering as believers. With all the philippias-1-29-honor-of-sufferingenjoyable blessings we receive is this seemingly odd insertion that many of us may not find too appealing. Pain isn’t always easy to equate to something positive.

But it’s regarding this very issue that I was very recently reminded of my humbling shortfall. Depending on where you’re reading this from, your experience will most probably dictate the weight of your conviction. As for me, it was a rude awakening, yet one I highly receive and value. I almost wish that it’s just my memory that doesn’t serve me well, but, as far as I can remember, the worst suffering I’ve ever experienced in connection with me being a believer has to do with personal insults: mockery, indifference, rejection, loss of friends. They hurt, and although it may be hard to accept, those experiences may have caused me some kind of intimidation that’s why I don’t share the Good News as frequently as needed.

What brought me some kind of godly “shame” are the sufferings of other believers. The Apostle Paul was imprisoned several times, whipped so many times—he lost count, faced death repeatedly, lashed several times, beaten with rods several times, stoned almost to death once, shipwrecked several times, was always in danger of death, and finally—beheaded. Add to this the prophets before him. One was sawed in two; some were struck with the sword; they left their homes and wandered in deserts and mountains and lived in caves and holes in the ground. Add to this the other apostles: thrown down from a high edifice and smashed with a club, struck with a spear, beheaded, crucified upside down… we get the idea. Add to this our brothers and sisters living in other countries who are under a continuous threat of persecution, imprisonment, torture and even death.

Should I add mine on the list, I can’t help but feel that my share of this “honor” looked anything but pathetic. I know that we’re not competing with each other as to who suffers the most, but I humbly admit,  there’s a need for me to step up a notch in the way I live and serve our Lord—and not to be intimidated into silence by these very small share of sufferings I may potentially add to my honors.

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