“For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.” Philippians 1:29, NLT
Read that again below…
“For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.” Philippians 1:29, NLT (emphasis added)
You’ve been given the privilege. You’ve been allowed to do something special or important. You’ve been given a gift.
The words “given” and “privilege” stick out in this verse because of what the verse says I’ve been given – the privilege of trusting in Christ (ok, so good, so far; I can do that), and the privilege of suffering for him.
I’ve been given the gift of suffering for Christ?!
This sounds backward and crazy. I don’t know many people who want to suffer much less anyone who’d consider it a gift or a privilege. Yet this verse makes it sound like something I should be thankful for the chance to do – to suffer for him.
Let there be thanksgiving…when you suffer?
This is a challenging concept (even for many experienced believers) to grasp that it is a privilege to suffer or that suffering is a gift from God, but we must remember that God’s kingdom is upside down.
It is difficult to explain why someone should be ok with suffering, or why someone might even welcome suffering.
I can’t explain it, honestly. I can only tell you that I have to pray about it each time I go through trials so that I can glorify God through the difficult situation.
You can pray about it, too, when you’re suffering. Talk to God and ask Him to help you understand it.
Even my friends who aren’t believers or who don’t have a close relationship with God can talk to Him. He hears you. He sees you, and He wants to walk and talk with you.
The Bible makes it clear, over and over in Scripture, that suffering is part of the life of one who follows Christ. The Bible even tells us that this suffering is a gift of God’s grace.
Maybe you’re still wondering, Why is it a privilege?
There are several good answers to this question, but the one that comes to mind right now is simple: When we suffer, we experience what God’s Son experienced.
Believers say we want to be Christ-like, and part of that is being treated like the world treated Christ. If we live like Him, we’ll look like Him, and if we look like Him the world will respond to us the way it responded to Him…with misunderstanding, fear, hatred, abuse, and persecution…suffering.
When we suffer, especially when the suffering is in Jesus’ name, God gives us the opportunity to be a part of something Jesus went through. Our suffering is His gracious gift to us.