9/20 Philippians 1:29

29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.

I'll never forget the time I was asked to preach on suffering to a church in the slums of Mumbai. How was an affluent American supposed to share with Christians who lived in utter poverty and who faced persecution from the other two more dominant religious groups? This verse was my text.

In preparing to preach on this topic, I learned that suffering is inevitable for all believers. Our convictions are contrary to that of the world. Our words and deeds will be hated. The persecution I've received was only words and a slashed tire. The believers in Mumbai face physical harm and removal from their meager dwellings. More believers are being executed for their faith than any previous time in history. We need to continually pray for those who live with the threat of physical harm.

The small room was packed; chairs were filled and children were sitting on the floor. I gave examples of believers in Scripture who counted it a privilege to suffer for Jesus. After all, He suffered for us. I told of the great heavenly rewards that far outweigh anything we experience here. I shared how this verse refers to suffering as a gift comparable to salvation, because it was for the sake of Christ.

At the end of the meeting a pastor with two small daughters came up and explained that the message spoke to his heart. He was going to ask for money for tin to build a space in the slums to shelter his family. The message convicted him that he should continue to share space in others' shacks, as it was a privilege to not have a home for the sake of the gospel. I had to ask myself if I believed the message as strongly as this pastor did.

Consider: We don't need to invite suffering. If we are true to the Word, it will come to us. Will you count it a privilege, as this pastor did, when it does come?