I was doing my quiet time and came across the following passage. "For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for his sake" (Philippians 1:29).
This made me want to look up what the Bible has to say about suffering in other passages. There are many more, but here's just a few.
"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you may participate in the suffering of Christ" (1 Peter 4:12-13).
"So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:8).
"Share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:3).
No one likes suffering. No one aspires to suffer. No one wants to suffer.
In fact, it's safe to say that we have an aversion to suffering. We don't want it. We don't want to hear about it. We don't want to know about someone else suffering. We just don't want anything to do with suffering.
You can't sell books and go on tv by preaching this suffering stuff. It just won't sell.
But Philippians says that we have been granted on behalf of Christ to not only believe in Him but also to suffer for his sake.
It speaks of suffering as if it was something that we wish for. It speaks of suffering as if it was something that we strive for. It speaks of suffering as if it was a privilege.
1 Peter 4:13 says that we are to rejoice that we get to participate in suffering. Yay! I get to suffer!
Timothy talks about suffering as a matter of fact. That's part of what it means to be a soldier of Jesus Christ.
Yet this is so foreign to think and speak about the life of faith. This is so anti believe in God and everything will be fine and you'll be happy. This is not at all "think it and believe it and it will happen" type of preaching I hear in so many circles.
Could it be that we have moved away so far from what it means to be Christ-followers according to Scripture that the idea of suffering for the sake of Christ has become anathema?
Certainly there is great joy in the life of Christ. There is no greater joy than living for Christ. But there is no such thing as a pain-free, disease-free, suffering-free Christianity.
That's right. We get to suffer for the sake of the gospel. And when we do live our lives as salt and light, part of the deal is suffering.