... That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death ...
When do you really know the Lord? When you realize He’s alive. When do you really understand He’s alive? When you go through tough times — the fellowship of suffering. When I’m cruising along on 'Easy Street,' I don’t know Jesus the way I often discover Him when I’m going through difficulties or problems, heartache or setbacks, tragedy or pain.
Here in Philippians, this book of rejoicing, Paul says, ‘Don’t despise the difficulty, the tragedy, the tough time, the setback, the heartaches — for those are the times you will understand that Jesus is truly risen. When the day is dark, the waters deep, the outlook grim — you’ll see Jesus.’
‘Sure, I want to know the Lord,’ people say. ‘I just don’t want to go through tough times. Of course I want to know His power — but I don’t want to deal with the fellowship which comes through suffering.’
Yet the only way you can know the Lord intimately is through the power of His resurrection. And the best way to experience the power of His resurrection is through hard times ...
‘How many men did we throw in the fire?’ asked Nebuchadnezzar.
‘Three, your highness.’
‘Well, how is it that I see four, and the fourth is like the Son of God?’
So clearly did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego see Jesus in the fire of suffering that they chose to remain in the fiery furnace with Him rather than to walk free without Him (Daniel 3:26).
We know the Lord by realizing He’s with us in times of suffering and by choosing to say, ‘Lord, I’ll die to myself in order to have fellowship with You. As long as I try to protect myself, I’ll not know You in the way I want to. So Lord, I choose to conform myself to Your death. Do what You want in my life.’
When Jesus started talking about the Cross, Peter’s response was, ‘Be it far from Thee, Lord. It’s not going to happen’ (Matthew 16:22).
And Peter’s is a cry we utter as well. ‘Not the Cross,’ we say. ‘’Not death, or bankruptcy, break-ups or leukemia. We want Cadillacs, miraculous healings, and holy laughter — that’s our kind of Christianity, Lord.’
We’re just like Peter. But when, to one degree or another, we experience the fellowship of suffering, we begin to say, ’I now choose death in order that I might know Jesus better.’
Christians are the only people who can truly choose to rejoice and be happy when things on the outside seem so bleak because we’re the only ones who know there will be a fellowship in suffering which will manifest the power of Jesus and His resurrection, and which will, in turn, allow the degree of intimacy with God which will make us deeply happy and truly blessed.
This Daily Devotional is an excerpt from the book "A Days Journey" by Pastor Jon. "A Days Journey" is a collection of 365 short devotions from the New Testament. If you would like your own copy of "A Days Journey" you may click here to go to the SearchLight Store