Through my extended journey through Philippians, one of the most reassuring things about this epistle is Paul’s attitude considering that at the time of his writing he was in chains for the gospel. This is one of Paul’s prison epistles. The reoccuring theme / word in this epistle is joy or rejoice. In fact, the fourth verse of the fourth chapter exhorts the Philippians and us to rejoice always, which includes short and long seasons of diverse trials.
Recently, I have been getting an onslaught of news from various brothers and sisters in the faith about various trials they are experiencing. One of the most reoccuring trials I hear are people dealing with health issues, even some that are life threatening. My heart goes out to them and my prayers go up for them. May the Lord extend them more grace to deal with these trials and ailments if He doesn’t choose to heal them. That grace is the increasing assurance in the abundant promises of the gospel.
The implications of the gospel are mighty against battling despair, depression, anger, frustration, and apathy that tend to accompany trials or afflictions.
These implications are mighty because they point us to Christ!
We simply must continue to believe the gospel for our sanctification and look forward to the eschatalogical implications of it – a glorified body, a new heaven and new earth, free from the presence of sin and its effects and reconciliation with Christ. It is a battle of faith to understand that this world and our earthly tents are not final. We are citizens of heaven awaiting our return home and we will be fit with new bodies for eternity. REJOICE! Our suffering is only for a little while.
While we can be comforted that our suffering here is not final, we still battle with the question of why? Why has the Lord appointed or permitted suffering for His children? Here’s where we must be cautious in examining the Lord and His ways, lest we sin against Him like Job. We must let God speak through His Word and rest in that.
Scripture tells us that there is a suffering that is actually a gift of grace (Philippians 1:29), it’s designed to sanctify us (James 1:2-4), deepens our intimacy with Christ (Psalm 119:75, Philippians 3:10) and loosens our affections for this world.
Scripture also tells us in Romans 8:28 that all things (including your trials and sufferings) are working together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. What’s implicit about Romans 8:28 is that all things are meant to glorify God! Our suffering, in one way or another, is a vehicle God uses to get glory from us for Himself as we see Him as Ultimate.
Grace & Peace,