It’s Friday again! Wow – did this week fly by or what? This has been a great week in the Word and a hard week in the Word all wrapped into one! Girls, God is good! He’s working on us as we walk through His Word together. So, how’s it going with you? Have you faced any obstacles on our journey through chapter one? Have you come face to face with anything you know needs to change? Been convicted, convinced or challenged?
I think I’ve heard Philippians was the book of joy for so long that I wasn’t prepared for what we discovered as we began to dig beyond the surface. What an unusually beautiful surprise!
Today, we are only going to cross the finish line of chapter one with two simple verses – Philippians 1:29-30. Below, I have provided the Amplified version (my fav!) or you can click this link and see our text in various versions.
“For you have been granted [the privilege] for Christ’s sake not only to believe in (adhere to, rely on, and trust in) Him, but also to suffer in His behalf. So you are engaged in the same conflict which you saw me [wage] and which you now hear to be mine [still].” Philippians 1:29-30
This past year one of my dearest friends gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever received – she cleaned my office for me! Nothing fancy – not even expensive, but the gift was something I’d treasure forever!
Treasures aren’t often found in the most obvious places. Gifts don’t always come packaged in fancy paper and colorful bows. Sometimes they come wrapped in the most unusual ways.
Today’s text gives us a glimpse of an unusual, unexpected and often undesired gift – the gift of suffering. I’m not sure if I’ve ever looked at suffering as a gift. Perhaps a cross I had to bear – maybe a test I had to go through or a trial I had to endure – but never a gift.
Obviously, the kind of suffering Paul was talking about was the suffering associated with following Christ. Persecution for naming the name of Christ when threatened to remain silent. Mistreatment for boldly sharing the gospel even when warned not to. Losing your job, your freedom or even your life for your faith – those are the types of sufferings Paul was talking about.
In Romans 8:17-18, Paul gives the same good news to the church at Rome. They were about to receive the unusual gift of suffering.
1. What does Paul say suffering can be used for in 2 Corinthians 1:4-6?
2. How did Paul suffer according to 2 Corinthians 11:23-27?
But all suffering can be used to glorify God.
I remember recently hearing Joni Eareckson Tada say she would let no suffering be wasted. That was not long after she found out she had breast cancer. In it and through it she glorifies God. She has been granted to suffer for His name’s sake.
3. Have you been granted the unusual gift of suffering lately? If so, write out what you’re going through.
4. List different ways you can use your suffering to glorify God.
5. List the names of those you know are going through their own seasons of suffering and then write out ways you can encourage them in their pain. Allow your list to become a prayer list for those who have been granted the unusual gift of suffering.
I don’t know what you may be going through today, but as vast as this group of women is, I believe some of you may be suffering. Don’t let your suffering be wasted, sweet one! Use every second of it for God’s glory. Point people to Him in the midst of it. Encourage those who are suffering right now with the same comfort with which you have been comforted by God.
Whether your suffering comes wrapped in a box of persecution, pain, sickness, a difficult marriage, an uncertain future, the loss of a loved one, a painful wait for your prodigal to come home, the betrayal of a friend or anything else that may cause you pain – please cast that burden on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7).
Cast your burden like you’re throwing a rock – not like you’re casting a fishing line in the water. You can reel the fishing line of your suffering back in, but you have to let go of the rock.
We only parked on one subject today, but it’s one that can frequently overwhelm us. If we see it as a cross to bear, it can steel our joy, test our faith and rock our world. If we see it as a gift God entrusts us with, then we won’t waste a moment of it.
You may be in a storm right now, but our Heavenly Father is sending a rainbow soon. Remember, no flower blooms without the rain and I can’t wait to hear about how you bloom, sweet friend!
I’m so glad we’re walking through this together. Philippians certainly hasn’t been as easy as we’d thought! If you haven’t subscribed already, you can click here to receive your Bible study in your inbox. Or you can click on the Google or Networkedblog link to receive it in your feeder.