“Keep walking with and toward Jesus in your storm, and the Holy Spirit will give you eyes to see the work He is doing around you.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 3, 2022
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, NKJV
This verse was a head scratcher to me for most of my Christian life. Until. Until, I experienced the fellowship of His sufferings. But, how can this be… fellowship and suffering? Sounds like oil and water…incompatible…opposites, unable to be together in any meaningful way. Yet, Paul in a profound (Holy Spirit inspirited) way is able to wrap words around this sacred place of intimacy and aloneness, love and fear, peace and conflict, healing and pain…fellowship and suffering. When we walk with Jesus, sometimes it’s like walking on hot coals! We will suffer through life’s trials, but in the process of our pain we have the opportunity to fellowship with our best friend, Jesus. His sufferings become our sufferings and our sufferings become His.
Church tradition states that the bold disciple Peter felt he was not worthy to die like Jesus, so he requested to be crucified upside down. The depth of Peter’s love and loyalty to the Lord led him to express his unworthiness of Christ’s love by illustrating the “fellowship of His sufferings” in his death. For me, a life threating health issue at age 51 brought me to my knees, and just as Paul opened the verse with “That I might know Him”, I began to learn that suffering was God’s way to draw me closer to Him, so I might help others draw closer to Him. My physical pain purified my soul to see Jesus as my suffering Savior (a man of sorrows), acquainted with my grief. The love of the Lord took me to places of peace and comfort so I could rest in the midst of my grieving.
“He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (Isaiah 53:3).
Is your pain being wasted or invested in a much greater purpose than your pain-free living? The Lord’s greater purpose includes serving as a loyal citizen in God’s Kingdom, especially when your life is being turned upside down. Your suffering may be for a season or for seasons, either way seek the way of wisdom and love in Jesus Christ. Sweet fellowship with your Savior is where you learn of Him, grow in Him and become like Him. I’m drawn to the 1826 Webster’s definition of fellowship: companionship, a mutual association on friendly terms, a partnership or joint interest, as a fellowship of pain. Your partnership of pain with Christ is an equally yoked venture with the owner of all you have—He is for you. In pain the Spirit takes you to intimate places you have never been, so you can take others to intimate places they have never been.
In this world (the world of the seen), as Jesus clearly taught, you will experience trouble (sin, sorrow, suffering). But as you abide in Christ (the world of the unseen), you encounter His living presence full of peace, comfort, joy, wisdom and love. Oswald Chambers describes how God uses challenges to help us gain spiritual eyes to see His purposes: “If you yourself do not cut the lines that tie you to the dock, God will have to use a storm to sever them and to send you out to sea. Put everything in your life afloat upon God, going out to sea on the great swelling tide of His purpose, and your eyes will be opened.” Keep walking with and toward Jesus in your storm, and the Holy Spirit will give you eyes to see the work He is doing around you. Lift your eyes off of your suffering and gaze on the love of God, as you seek to serve those who quietly suffer. The fellowship of His sufferings blessed by His resurrection power bears the fruit of knowing God!
“But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering, he speaks to them in their affliction” (Job 36:15).
Heavenly Father, give eyes to see you and know you as I experience the fellowship of suffering with your Son, through Christ’s love and in Jesus’ name, amen.
Who is suffering that needs my fellowship, comfort and love in her/his life?
CeCe Winans & Tauren Wells: Believe for It
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