By studying Paul’s life and all he was experiencing at the time he wrote the book of Philippians, I know Paul is talking to the people of Philippi about being persecuted for their faith in Christ, yet Paul’s words still bother me. Granted to suffer for Christ’s sake? To me, it sounds like Paul is saying it’s a privilege to suffer. Although I’ve learned to see God at work in my sickness, I don’t know that I would call it a privilege to be sick.
As I studied these verses, I discovered something. The word used for suffering is closely linked to a word which means “to make proof of; test.” Paul also uses this word in other letters he wrote to describe various types of trials, which means sickness, financial trouble, and personal problems can apply to suffering for Christ’s sake. The more I studied this passage of Scripture, the more I began to understand what Paul meant by suffering for Christ’s sake.
Becoming a diamond isn’t easy. In fact, it’s extremely hard. That’s why diamonds are so rare. Before the diamond is formed, the rock often breaks apart and is destroyed. The same thing can often be said about people who are suffering. More times than not, they are destroyed by the process before they can become something beautiful, because they don’t turn to God in their suffering. Yet the ones who willingly let God shape them into a diamond are stunningly beautiful because they reflect God.
I doubt I will ever say that being sick is fun, yet I’m in awe that God loves me so much He is unwilling to leave me in my carbon state. God alone can look at who I am and see the potential of who I can be. If suffering is what it takes to make me more like Christ, than yes, it is worth it.
To us, it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake. So don’t give up and grow discouraged at the problems you are currently facing. God is at work in your life, and He is making you into a rare, valuable jewel.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” ~ James 1:2-4 (NASB)
(c) August 13, 2012