When we go through Tough Stuff
Pray: That the Spirit will illuminate this passage and give strength to persist.
Read: Philippians 1:12-21
When we go through tough stuff, we often comfort ourselves or others with nice little statements like, “God has a plan,” or “You’re gonna get through this,” and various statements like that. These remarks are absolutely true but I think we often skew the scope of which these actually could be true. What if God’s plan for you is to suffer a lot and die? What if your ‘getting through this’ is death? I know people that this was absolutely true for, and I’m sure you do too. Are these such bad things? We often think so but the apostle Paul challenges our assumptions and leads us to a greater hope.
“For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21). For the Christian, it is better to die! Paul challenges us to reorient our view of the pain and suffering we experience. As we suffer in this life, we do it for Jesus (i.e. “To live is Christ”). The joy of our lives is to point other believers and people who are far from God to the suffering of Jesus on the cross, for the redemption of mankind!
Being thrown in prison has “served to advance the gospel,” Paul says (Phil 1:12). Do you have this view when things aren’t going your way or your perfect world is falling apart? Paul’s example is just for you. His challenge is to have the same confidence in Christ through the toughest of circumstances. You can rest in the delight of knowing that no matter what you go through, it honors the name of Jesus Christ. And if you happen to die in the end, and things don’t get better, then that is better. The question God is asking you is, “Will you trust Me?”
Don’t be ashamed of your suffering but embrace it with joy. Don’t wish away your circumstances but embrace them for Christ. When God’s plan comes to its fullness, you’ll be fine and you’ll know that you lived well because the peace of God that surpasses understanding was upon you. Embrace the pain. Allow the name of Jesus to be made great in your suffering. God’s plan for your life is going to move forward either way, but this way, you get to be on board and not fighting the current of God’s will. When you can begin to view your life this way through God’s perspective, then the pain becomes an opportunity and the end of life becomes full of hope.
1. What caused you the most pain over the last few years?
2. How did you handle it? Did you point to Jesus or did you feel sorry for yourself? What was God doing in your heart through that pain or difficulty?
3. Who do you know that is struggling that you can encourage with this message of hope?
Philippians 1:21 – “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”