"For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him."
A man in my church has suffered terrible persecution for his faith in Jesus. He’s been in prison five times. He’s been beaten and tortured repeatedly. He’s been forced to flee his home – and even as I write this, he’s praying that one day he’ll see his wife and children again. But like the apostles long ago, he rejoices that he’s been counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus (Acts 5:40-41).
In today’s passage, we learn that, like faith, affliction is a gift from God. Jesus explained this in the Sermon on the Mount saying, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…” (Matthew 5:11-12).
This is how Paul could write from prison, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (v. 21). He saw his suffering as a gift from God. Remember that your Savior who loves you endured the greatest suffering and persecution to secure your eternity with Him in heaven one day.
IT'S A PRIVILEGE TO SUFFER FOR CHRIST BECAUSE OUR PATIENT ENDURANCE FOR HIS NAME GLORIFIES HIM AND REASSURES US THAT WE'RE HIS
(SEE 1 PETER 4:12-16).