18 I consider that what we suffer at this present
time cannot be compared at all with the glory
that is going to be revealed to us.
9-10 and be completely united with him. I no longer
have a righteousness of my own, the kind that is gained
by obeying the Law. I now have the righteousness that is
given through faith in Christ, the righteousness that
comes from God and is based on faith. All I want is to know
Christ and to experience the power of his resurrection,
to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death,
I have a feeling that the first half of PHILIPPIANS 3:10 is underlined in a lot of Bibles … but that the second half of the verse is kind of ignored. It’s easy to want to know the power of Jesus Christ’s resurrection … but it takes a whole ‘nother level of maturity, discernment and courage to want to connect with Jesus in ways that involve us identifying with His suffering and His death.
And yet it’s absolutely critical that we understand this because the more we go through tough times, and the more we face persecution, and the more we become passionate about seeing God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness come, no matter what the cost to us … then the more our eyes will be focused upward and not on the things of this world!
Let me tell you about King Jehoshaphat. He was the king of Judah (the southern part of the Promised Land, with Israel to the north) … and he ruled for 25 years with a huge heart for God in the midst of a people whose hearts were consistently turning away from God. In other words, Jehoshaphat was swimming upstream much of his life. And yet, in the midst of intense pressure to give in, in the midst of stress to walk away from God and do his own thing, Jehoshaphat stood strong.
At one critical junction in Jehoshaphat’s life, three groups of his enemies became allies and marched against his kingdom … here’s what Jehoshaphat said, as recorded in ...
12 Our strength is not equal to this great army
which is coming against us; and we are at a loss
what to do: but our eyes are on You our God.
That’s the kind of life, the kind of perspective, the kind of outlook, and the kind of faith, I want to pursue – and I Invite you to pursue it with me. That’s the kind of life and faith Peter is calling us toward in FIRST PETER 4:12-19.
I don’t know what “great army” is marching against you right now. It might be something in your marriage, or something with your kids, or something with your schoolwork, or with your friends, or it might be something connected to your finances. But whatever it is, God knows about it. And the key to you and me moving through time of testing, suffering, and trials is to “keep our eyes on God.” Because He’s the One who knows us, understands us, and sees the future that He has for us.
Billy James Foot put it this way in his worship song …
I'm forgiven, because You were forsaken.
I'm accepted; You were condemned.
I'm alive and well, Your Spirit is within me.
Because you died and rose again.
Amazing love, how can it be?
That You my king would die for me?
Amazing love, I know it's true.
And It's my joy to honor You ...
In all I do I honor You.
And so instead of being surprised when the hard chapters of our lives begin, let’s choose to view life as a classroom, and God as our teacher. In school it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody when the teacher says, “Today we’re having a Pop Quiz” or “Tomorrow we’re having an exam.” Tests aren’t strange or out-of-the-norm when we’re pursuing an education. And maturity in the Christian life is a lot like maturity in the classroom, in that it’s measured by our ability to withstand and move through the tests that come our way without having them bust up our spiritual foundations or throw us into an emotional tailspin.
Believe me, I know how easy it is to go to either extreme with this perspective Peter is calling us to. Our tendency is to want to embrace the glory and the joy, and to avoid any sharing of Jesus’ suffering.
OR, we morbidly fixate on the suffering and forget that much of the time in this life suffering is a necessary prelude to uncovering and living into the glory and the joy. And in the midst of these realities Peter says, “Be realistic about what’s going on in your life, in your circumstances, in the hard things you’re going through, but be more realistic about what God can do in you and through you in the midst of what’s going on.”
Most of the time when a woman gets pregnant, there’s great rejoicing. And unless you’re a very close friend, and you say it with the smile of personal experience on your face, you wouldn’t say to this new mom-to-be, “Do you realize how much pain this pregnancy is going to bring you? Your joints are going to swell. You’re going to lose your center of gravity. You’re going to walk around like a waddling duck and then you’re going to scream your lungs out while delivering your child. It’s so exciting” Most of us wouldn’t say that.
Instead, most of the time we rejoice with a woman for her pregnancy because we know that nearly all the pain of delivering a child transforms into joy the moment a mom holds her newborn child in her arms.
And Jesus understands this too, because He delivered me and He delivered you. When He left the glory of heaven and came to earth … to grow up in a world that for the most part would hate Him, reject Him and ultimately kill Him … He came knowing that the suffering He’d have to endure on the cross would bring about the joy of delivering us from the hands of eternal death into the arms of eternal life.