From yesterday: Just as Jesus’ mission required Him to suffer for our sakes, our mission calls us to suffer with Him. One day there will be one kingdom, and death, mourning, crying and pain will cease (Revelation 21:4). But while we live as citizens of God’s kingdom, behind enemy lines, it is impossible to avoid the inevitable conflict. In the words of Paul, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29).
I used to view this verse as an attitude adjustment. In other words, it helped me put my struggles in perspective, although I recognized my occasional discomforts were nothing compared to the persecutions endured by my brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. But now I realize Paul’s statement is a challenge as well as a reality. Our journey is hard because we have chosen a more difficult, but profoundly more rewarding path.
One day a teacher of the law came to Jesus and said: “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go” (Matthew 8:19). Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (8:20). Another disciple asked Jesus to let him go bury his father. His father was probably not dead, but he wanted to remain with him for as long as he lived. Jesus said, “Follow me and let the dead bury their own dead” (8:22).
If you have taken an oath of citizenship for God’s kingdom, only to be surprised by the difficulty of the journey, you must know the misunderstanding is not Jesus’ fault. He could not have been more honest. Maybe you weren’t listening closely enough, or someone misrepresented the Christian walk by making it sound too easy. Or perhaps it was easier to talk about trials in the abstract until Satan unleashed his fury in your life. My advice is not to give up, but “re-up.” Consider it joy when you face trials (James 1:2). The journey is hard because we are engaged in a spiritual struggle, but if we persevere, we will experience indescribable joy.