The Gift of Suffering

Pondering Philippians: Chapter 1, Verses 19-30

Trials.  Pain.  Loss.  They are to be expected in this world.

We hear a sermon on grace in the midst of suffering and we say, “amen.”  Then we leave the church building and pray it never happens to us.  We will endure mild discomfort for the cause of Christ, but hope to dodge the bullet on any real pain.

We hope to make it through unscathed.  And if, by chance, we make it through with minimal damage – we thank God for His mercies and assume that He must really love us.

What, then, do we do with Philippians 1:29?

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake.

We have been granted the privilege of suffering.  Are we ever as close to Christ as when we feel the weight of the cross on our backs?  John Piper says it this way, “There is more of God to be had in times of suffering than any other time.”  More of God.  Shouldn’t that be our desire?

When we feel beaten up by the world and abandoned by those we love? More of you, God, give me more.

When the loss is so great and the pain so intense? More of you, God, give me more.

This verse is also translated this way:

There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting.

We live, most days, in ignorance of what it means to suffer.  But, if we are living for Him, our day will come.

May we suffer like Paul – for the advancement of the gospel and to the glory of God.

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Previous posts in the Pondering Philippians series:

Day 1: God is Not Through (Philippians 1:1-11)

Day 2: Your Painful Purpose (Philippians 1:12-18)

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me and buxStacy Edwards is a trucker’s daughter and a pastor’s wife. She is a freelance writer and a homeschooling mom to four fabulous little girls. Stacy blogs at Servant’s Life where she uses her words to point others to the hope and encouragement found in Christ. If you need her, she’s probably hiding in the bathroom. You can follow Stacy on Twitter (@sjedwards.)

How to Study Scripture

psalm 16Do you want to be a better student of Scripture, but struggle with where to begin? Do you hear someone talk about a “quiet time” and wonder what that even means? Trust me, you are not alone.

Several years ago, my grandpa passed away and we were going through some things in his home. Packed away in an upstairs bedroom there was a box. In that box were letters he and my grandma had written to each other when he was overseas during World War II. He had to leave her for a short time, but he promised to come back and he told her of his love. In return, she told him how she would be strong while he was gone and would faithfully wait for his return.

The Bible is not a list of dos and don’ts. It is not a bunch of “you do this or else” warnings. It’s a love letter. It is God saying to His beloved (those of us who are in Christ), You are mine and we will be together very soon. It’s one big, romantic, love letter written just for you. It is God promising to come again for us. It is a declaration of His love. Scripture is where we find strength, comfort and the ability to wait faithfully for His return. Do not read the Bible like a textbook. Cherish it like a love letter. 

With that in mind, here are some tips for studying Scripture.

  • Pray. Before you begin reading, ask God to help you understand what you are about to read. The Bible tells us that, after the resurrection, Christ appeared to His disciples and taught them. We are told that Christ “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45.) Ask Him to do the same for you.
  • Read Slowly. It is very popular these days to read the Bible in 90 days. There are a thousand read-the-Bible-in-a-year plans. There is NOTHING wrong with doing those things. However, to truly “study” the Word, take your time. Think “love letter.” Imagine how you would pour over every word.
  • Read in context. Ask questions. Who is speaking? Who is listening? Where are they? Think about the passage I just referenced above, Luke 24:36-48. Read verse 37. But they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. How is that for drama, folks? That makes you want to go read the whole passage, doesn’t it? So, you’re going to ask yourself some questions. Who are “they?” They are the disciples of Christ. Who were they mistaking for a ghost? It was Christ. Why were they terrified to see Christ? They were scared because He has already, at this point, been crucified. Do you feel the tension? The excitement?
  • What now? When you have finished reading a portion of Scripture, ask yourself “what now?” Is there a command that you need to  obey? Is there a promise that you can claim? Is there a sin that you need to repent of and move on from?

I pray you find these tips helpful as you read God’s love letter to you.

You are loved, my friends.

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me and buxStacy Edwards is a trucker’s daughter and a pastor’s wife. She is a freelance writer and a homeschooling mom to four fabulous little girls. Stacy blogs at Servant’s Life where she uses her words to point others to the hope and encouragement found in Christ. If you need her, she’s probably hiding in the bathroom.