July 7 I Sunday
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” —Philippians 3:10-11
When we get to know a person, it is often under pleasant circumstances. Yet, when Paul tells us that he wants to know Christ, he says that is through “participating in His sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). What in the world does that mean? The popular notion is we want to reverse this, where we want Jesus to share our sufferings. In wonderful ways, Jesus does, but this is not what
Paul is talking about here. To know Christ, we ought to share in His sufferings.
Not that we could make any contributions to His atonement and suffering vicariously on our behalf on the cross, to know the power of Jesus’s resurrection life means we are not exempt from suffering but are equipped for suffering. Paul declares, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him” (Phillipians 1:29). The phrase, “it has been granted to you,” does not mean that God is indifferent to our sufferings. He is never indifferent to our sufferings; rather, it means He equips us for our suffering. If we are not suffering at this moment, enjoy it while it lasts, but inevitably, suffering is a part of life.
We often hear people talk about how to enjoy, cope and overcome our sufferings but how often do we hear people talk about how to rejoice in our sufferings? Paul expresses, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). We can go into suffering, with a confidence in Him to work out His purposes because suffering produces all kinds of qualities that otherwise maybe we would never experience.
I have a friend who suffered from Legionnaires’ disease, where all the muscles of his body become increasingly incapacitated until eventually he is unable to swallow and breath. He was going through a process where his body was becoming less and less able. I email him once in a while to see how he is doing. One day, I received a message and he said, “I’ve not found Christ to be my healer but I have found Christ to be my sustainer.” There are times when Christ is our healer and we rejoice in those occasions, but our confidence in every occasion is that He is our sustainer.
In whatever situations we face, may it be a beautiful reminder to us that our suffering allows us to know Christ deeper. May we approach suffering with this spirit of humility and submission that enables us to go through the most grueling and horrendous of circumstances because Christ is our sustainer.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You that no matter what suffering I am going through in my life, You are my sustainer. Help me to persevere in my walk with hope that is found in knowing You.