The Fellowship of His Sufferings
Sharon W. Betters
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:8–11).
Paul’s words stir up a longing in my own heart to know Jesus, to really know Him intimately. As we read in this passage, Paul’s mission in life was not to do more (“not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law”). His mission was to know Jesus intimately. Because of his love for Jesus, Paul “suffered the loss of all things and counted them as rubbish”. He hungered for more of Jesus. He let go of anything that distracted him from his life goal – to be found in Jesus, to know Him, the power of his resurrection. And wonder of wonders, Paul saw suffering as a pathway for falling more in love with Jesus.
What does this mean for us as we consider the resurrection power God places within us when we personally meet Jesus? Unlike most of us, Paul suffered repeatedly because of his intimacy with Jesus and hunger to share the good news. But like us, he struggled with sin and temptation. He recognized every temptation or sin as an invitation to experience forgiveness and intimacy with Jesus through the power of God’s redeeming love. He acknowledged his sinfulness (I am the greatest of sinners) and that realization made the sacrifice of Jesus even more precious. Each struggle drew Him deeper into His Savior’s heart.
When I read Philippians 3:10 – “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death“ and prayed that prayer so many years ago, my fear led me to believe the only way to “know” the power of His resurrection was to lose everything that gave me joy and experience enormous loss. What skewed theology. Certainly, the Lord tells us that through suffering and loss we can know Jesus more intimately. I know this for a fact in my own journey. He sends treasures in the darkness, riches stored in secret places designed to help turn our hearts toward Jesus. But what about through the day? Does resurrection power only show up in salvation? Or is there resurrection power within us, ready to transform us into the likeness of Christ?
Is there suffering in the mundane where I can regularly experience the power of His resurrection? Yes! Every time we are tempted to sin, or when we actually sin, the power of His resurrection offers strength to resist and forgiveness when we fail. Each time we whisper those words, “Oh Lord, I’ve done it again, please forgive me,” we experience resurrection power, bought by the crucifixion of Jesus on the Cross.
Every temptation and sin is an invitation to lean into Jesus and to be transformed into His image. Such grace compels us to obey and equips us to obey in spite of our feelings. Every day, over and over again, we make choices. Will we obey the Lord, or will we choose sinful behavior? Every instance confronts us with a choice. Will we die to ourselves, or will we choose selfishness?
Oh Lord, these truths are too great and deep for us to fully grasp them. Please, Jesus, show us the resurrection power placed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit when we experienced forgiveness. Open our hearts and eyes to how Your resurrection power not only saves us but transforms us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sharon W. Betters is a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, pastor’s wife, and cofounder of MARKINC Ministries, where she is the Director of Resource Development. Sharon is the author of several books, including Treasures of Encouragement, Treasures in Darkness, and co-author with Susan Hunt of Aging with Grace. She is the co-host of the Help & Hope podcast and writes Daily Treasure, an online devotional.
For more from Daily Treasure please visit MARKINC.ORG.