The Fellowship of His Sufferings

by Rhonda Dragomir @RhondaDragomir

“Rhonda.”

God called my name one Sunday during worship in what seemed an audible voice. I’ve only heard him speak so clearly a few times in my life, so he certainly had my attention. As I meditated and prayed the rest of the day, I received a crucial message which started my journey to healing.

Three years before that day, my soul had received a gaping wound. After twenty-three years of fruitful service in one local church, a web of powerful lies demolished my husband’s ministry. Repeated efforts at reconciliation had failed. Some people who once dearly loved us cut us off. Although we could prove my husband’s innocence, we never received a hearing.

Forced to move, my husband was stripped of his ministerial credentials. Some of our friends and colleagues shunned us. Shame and reproach stalked us like wolves after a herd of sheep. The false rumors broke our hearts because we deeply loved the church people and knew they were hurting, too. They believed we had betrayed them, and they shared our agony.

Grief and loneliness surfaced in my heart, bringing their companions—anger, bitterness, and the desire for revenge against the perpetrator of the lie. My predicament seemed hopeless.

The day God called my name, I spent the following hours seeking him in prayer and meditation. The answer came to me through this verse: “That I may know [Jesus], and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10 KJV).

Jesus was rejected by his own (John 1:11). The congregation of our church felt like our own family. Jesus was driven out of his home town by those who sought His destruction (Luke 14:4-30). We were forced to pack in a hurry and depart our home of 23 years in a short span of three weeks. Jesus was subjected to cruel lies, betrayed by a dear friend, and crucified even though he was innocent. I had not died physically, but spiritually and emotionally, I felt dead.

However, my suffering had a redemptive purpose: Christ invited me to fellowship with him more intimately. I prayed, “Jesus, now I understand on some level how you felt. I’m so sorry.” Jesus endured pain for the sake of my redemption and the salvation of the whole world. It was hard to focus on the sins committed against me when I acknowledged that my personal sins had made Jesus so familiar with suffering.

God redeemed my anguish and used it to draw me closer to Jesus. Little by little, I repented of anger and bitterness, forgave those who had wronged us, and learned how to be thankful for my journey. When the pain surfaces—and it does from time to time—I praise God for allowing me to understand in a small way the magnificent sacrifice Jesus made for me. My scars pale in significance when compared to the joy of knowing him.  

I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things… I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings…  Philippians 3:8b, 10 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

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The Fellowship of His Sufferings – encouragement from @RhondaDragomir on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: An avid reader and writer, Rhonda Dragomir lives in the heart of idyllic horse country in central Kentucky. Her degree in Social Work from Asbury University prepared her for more than forty years of ministry as a pastor’s wife.

Rhonda writes both fiction and nonfiction, and she was named 2019 Writer of the Year by Serious Writer, Inc. Learn more about Rhonda on her website: www.rhondadragomir.com.

Join the conversation: Has suffering helped you to know Jesus better?

My Comforter Saw it Coming

by Meredith Kendall

I knew God was up to something when my husband and I both felt it was time to sell our home in order to be ready for our next assignment. But God’s literal handwriting on a wall on March 10, 2018 while driving. I had to hit my brakes so that I would not rear end an 18-wheeler who just happened to be going slow as I turned the corner. “Ready 2 Move” was the slogan on its back doors. One of the three cities printed underneath the slogan was Cape Coral, Florida.

It was more than mere coincidence. We had been earnestly praying for God to give us an answer as to whether we were to move over 12 hours away from our children and grandchildren to Cape Coral to plant a church.

Since moving, things haven’t gone as I planned, so to say I have been at odds with God is an understatement. During one of my episodes, I told Him that if I was going be depressed and lonely, the least He could’ve done was leave me where I had grandchildren and thirty-four years of roots.

Then at the beginning of May, our thirty-six-year-old son-in-law was diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He went to the doctor thinking he had pneumonia and walked out after hearing “we need to find out what this iPhone sized mass behind your heart and lungs is.”  And his wife, our daughter, is finally pregnant with number three after almost four-years of month after month disappointment.

I started in again with God. “Why am I here? Why did you send me 823 miles away? Why would you keep me away from them? Why?”

When I started to yell, God didn’t apologetically say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t see this coming.” No. He ushered me into His lap, put His loving arms around me and said, “My child, you will see, I promise. I have a plan for this as well.”

I found myself often repeating Romans 8:28, a verse for which I actually have a love-hate relationship. It says that “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” And just like God, He didn’t leave me there. He also gave me 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4, a promise that the comfort we receive from Him in our suffering will be something we can someday offer to other fellow-sufferers.

I know that I will come away from this hardship better for it. I will be equipped to offer new wisdom and truth that comes from experiencing adversity. I will know Jesus better than ever before, because my suffering will give me insight into His heart. I will learn to trust God on a deeper level by the necessity of placing my broken heart into His hands.

I choose to trust God through this present affliction. He will be my Comforter and my teacher. He will carry me through the pain. And in the end, it will be worth it all.

I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Philippians 3:8-10 NASB

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My Comforter Saw it Coming – insight on following God from Meredith Sage Kendall on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

meredith kendallAbout the author: Meredith Sage Kendall, is a change agent, driven by her God-given passion to equip struggling families to achieve their unique God-given potential. As a nationally recognized sales leader, Meredith learned how to build bridges and make connections with the heart of what people need. God called her to co-found Advancing the Gospel which serves those who are often forgotten. Today she uses her giftings to help people understand the root causes of their struggles and find freedom through Christ. Visit her online atwww.meredithsagekendall.com.

The Lay-Away Coat

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

In the “old days,” back in 1966, there was something available at stores called “lay-away.” You could put a down payment on an item and pay over time. Of course, you didn’t receive the item until you paid in full.

If you are smiling a knowing grin, you are revealing your age, and it’s most likely as old as I am. But in those days when I worked part-time for very little pay and went to high school, I loved the lay-away plan.

One day as I shopped at our local department store, I fell in love with a red coat that was gorgeous and expensive. Only by paying my hard-earned five dollars each week did I have any hope of wearing such a fabulous coat.

Finally, the coat was mine, and I wore it for the first time to our high school’s championship water polo game. While there, I met Larry through a mutual friend. Eventually that meeting blossomed into marriage three years later. While we dated, God used Larry to draw me to Christ. Yes, missionary dating!

After we were married, Larry told me he was immediately attracted to the rich-looking red coat I wore when we met. He thought I was rich. Underneath, I wore the inexpensive clothes I’d bought at a discount store. But the red coat did the trick.

I love this story because it reminds me that every Christian is wearing a spiritual coat paid for by Jesus’ blood-red death on the cross. It’s called a “robe of righteousness.”

Isaiah 61:10 gives a sense of our joy thinking of this: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

And after we arrive in heaven, Revelation 7:9-10 tells us our robes will be white because of our purity: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

As I speak to women at speaking events about this righteous robe, I often ask them to close their eyes and envision their righteous robe and what it looks like and how they feel. Some envision different colors. Red, purple, and white are the most popular colors. They might describe different fabrics: silk or velvet or trimmed in fur. Some describe they feel peaceful, empowered or loved.

Can you sense your righteous robe wrapped around you? You received this robe as a free gift because of Jesus’s death and resurrection. You don’t even have to pay $5.00 a week on lay-away for it. It is immediately yours at your point of salvation.

…I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.  Philippians 3:8-10 NASB

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The lay-away coat from God – insight from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller is the author of more than 50 books including At the Heart of Friendship: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series.A popular women’s speaker, she has spoken in over 30 US states and 8 foreign countries. She lives in SouthernAt the Heart of Friendship by [Miller, Kathy Collard] California and loves to encourage women to know their value in Christ. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com, www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor, or on Instagram: @kathycollardmiller.