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The Privilege of Pain

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For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. Philippians 1:29

When the apostle Paul wrote of suffering, he did so with authority. He had suffered threats of death and more severe beatings than he could count. He had suffered through sleeplessness, hunger, thirst, and cold. His life as a servant of Jesus Christ was one of constant danger and great personal suffering (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

But this same man not only wrote of suffering for Christ as a privilege, he also wrote of suffering as a means to grow in his faith: “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).

In America these days, Christians don’t suffer the way Paul did. This is a time and a place of peace and prosperity. But when you suffer—be it from a personal loss, an illness, disability, or other difficulties—you can look at it as a privilege and a blessing. And you can live in the assurance that your joy is not based on your suffering or on your lack of suffering, but in knowing God intimately and walking with Him every day.
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