by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson
“It’s a pri-vi-lege. It really is,” my daughter drawls when our male standard poodle swishes his derrière in front of her to be scratched. Those who’ve met Max know she’s right. It is an honor to be picked to pet his long back.
Did you know the Bible calls suffering for Christ a privilege?
When I joined Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) out of college one questionnaire asked if I was familiar with spiritual warfare. I wasn’t. But I am now.
Every time I write a book or prepare to speak at a conference or retreat I experience battles on many fronts. I find myself wondering if it’s worth it. I’ve joked that if I have to live my message I think I’ll write and speak on gardens in Europe.
That’s why this verse in Philippians stopped me.
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29 NIV).
“Granted—to suffer”? “Granted” makes suffering sound like a gift. Certainly, salvation is a gift, but suffering?
The New Living Translation says it like this:
“For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.”
While I’ve never suffered like those in the persecuted church, the Bible says that just wanting to please God brings battles. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12 NIV). So, I find it helpful to reframe how I look at the hardships that inevitably touch the lives of those who want to live godly.
Suffering for Christ is a privilege because
- Our suffering for Christ can’t compare with what He suffered for us. “And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8 NLB). Christ’s anguish sliced much deeper than the physical agony of crucifixion. Jesus became sin. He took the hell we deserved, so we could share His heaven.
- Suffering for Christ—without grumbling—purifies us to shine for Him. “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” (Philippians 2:14-15 NIV).
- Suffering for Christ allows me to experience Him more deeply. “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10 NASB, emphasis added). On four occasions I’ve had the privilege of worshiping with members of the persecuted church. Let me just say it was deeply moving. These brothers and sisters knew they could die for their faith at any time. Their worship was deep, rich, and real.
- Suffering for Christ now allows me to share His glory later. “But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later” (Romans 8:17-18 NLT).
Is it worth it to follow Christ when serving Him brings suffering? Yes, suffering for Christ is always a privilege. But there’s even a better reason to persevere through suffering: He’s worth it.
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:21 NLT
Bio: Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks, writes, and coaches to help women discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog. debbieWwilson.com
Join the conversation: Have you experienced suffering for Christ?