Philippians 1:12-14, 29-30 - I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the Word without fear. ... 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, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
Now, there's a scary topic! For most of us, true, severe suffering for Christ is something we read about in other countries. Most of us have never been fined or imprisoned for being Christians ourselves. Few of us have lost family members to death for His sake.
As a result, we may fear suffering more than those who actually experience persecution now. It is unfamiliar to us—and people always fear what they don't know. We wonder: Could I stay faithful, under those circumstances? Would I give up and give in?
Against these worries, Paul gives us reasons to calm down and trust the Lord. Paul is actually sitting in prison when he writes this letter—and not for any crime, but because he's been teaching and preaching about Jesus. And though I'm sure it's not his favorite place to be, Paul sees several advantages to what's happening to him.
First of all, he sees it as a witness. Apparently, the whole imperial guard has been gossiping about his situation—and all the jailers and servants, too. That's a lot of people who have just found out about Jesus! I'd love to know how many of them ultimately ended up becoming Christians themselves.
Second is what Paul says about how his suffering has made the rest of the local Christians less afraid to share the Good News about Jesus! In fact, he says they are "more confident" as a result. That's a very odd result, isn't it?
But it's also true to life. Because one thing that actually suffering for Christ's sake does is to teach you that suffering is just ... suffering. It isn't total destruction. It's certainly unpleasant, and you'll be glad when it's over, but it isn't the end of the world. After watching Paul suffer, his fellow Christians realized God would get them through it, too. And this is true for us as well.
Paul is right. It is an honor to suffer for Christ's sake. It's a chance to walk in Jesus' footsteps, and to do so for love of Him. If this should come to you, don't be afraid. Jesus is right there walking with you, and He upholds you. And the One who suffered and died for love of you knows exactly how to get you through this experience, too.
Trust in the One who loves you, for He has risen from the dead and has the victory over everything—even suffering, and even fear. He will never let you go.
WE PRAY: Dear Lord, when I fear suffering and persecution, help me to trust in You. And bless and strengthen those who suffer for You now. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Is suffering for Christ a thing that scares you? Why or why not?
2. Do you know anyone who has suffered in this way?
3. Why do we see so much joy as well as pain among people, like Paul, who are suffering for Jesus' sake?
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"