For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him. (Philippians 1:29 NIV)
What thoughts come to your mind when you think of the word “granted?” For me it conjures up pleasant thoughts. Something good or pleasant will be “given” to me. Part of the definition of grant[ed] says “to permit as a right, privilege or favor.” I like that…a privilege or a favor…now that sounds pretty good. It makes me think, “Wow, I can’t wait to see what will be granted to me!”
Recently I was reading and studying Philippians chapter one and I saw something, really saw something, for the first time, and it stopped me dead in my tracks…
Philippians 1:29, For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him (emphasis mine).
And then later on in Philippians 3:10 (NIV), I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in His death.
Paul indicates that it is a “privilege” or a “favor” that we should suffer for Christ. That seems to go against what I would think would be “favor.” But yet it is. Up until this time, here in America, we have not really suffered for Christ. There are countries where people suffer greatly because they are Christians – in China, Sudan, Iraq and Iran (just to name a few). It is heart-breaking to hear testimonies of believers who have suffered greatly because they bear the name of our Lord and Savior. Yet, it is in those persecuted countries that we see more and more people coming to know Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives no matter what the cost.
The world thinks America is a privileged country. My parents thought so and in 1952 they emigrated here. Yet, what is privilege? Who is truly privileged? According to Paul, to suffer for Christ is the greatest privilege.
There may come a day when Christians in America will be “privileged” like those Christians all over the globe. May we rejoice in all things, even suffering, as Paul did 2000 years ago.
Mary Ann Kiernan
Mary Ann Kiernan serves as the Intake Coordinator at the Colony of Mercy. She is a wife, mother and grandmother.
Today’s Victory Call devotion is from Real Victory for Real Life, Volumes 2, 365 Daily Meditations for Victorious Christian Living with daily Bible readings to take you through the Bible in a year! To order your copy, call 1-800-453-7942. Volume 1 is $10 plus $6.80 shipping; Volume 2 is $12 plus shipping.