Things seemed so much easier in his former life when he could seemingly earn his own righteousness before God. He was of the correct lineage, followed the law faithfully from birth, and even demonstrated his zeal by persecuting those who were promoting false teaching. Put simply, he considered himself blameless (Philippians 3:1-6).

But his life was turned upside down when he encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. He discovered that true righteousness is only found through faith (trust) in Jesus (Philippians 3:7-11). And he discovered that trusting and following Jesus did not guarantee a trouble-free life. In fact, from that day forward, he knew he would suffer much for the sake of Jesus’ name (Acts 9:16).

Trust during suffering is a lesson Paul learned over and over. When he planned to spread the Gospel message in Asia and then Bithynia, the Holy Spirit prevented him and gave him a vision to go to Macedonia instead. Paul’s obedience resulted in many people getting saved and in the establishment of a new church in Philippi – and in his being thrown in prison for casting a demon out of a slave girl. Yet Paul was not daunted. At midnight, Paul and Silas demonstrated their trust in the midst of suffering by praying and singing hymns to God. Yes, this time God rescued them with an earthquake and moved the jailer and his household to put their trust in the Lord Jesus (read Acts 16:1-40). But even if they had remained in prison or were killed, Paul counted it a privilege to suffer for the sake of Christ.

Years later while Paul was yet again in prison, this time in Rome, he wrote to the church that he had helped start in Philippi: “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, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have” (Philippians 1:27-28 ESV). Trust in Jesus did not mean they – and we – would not suffer. On the contrary, when we trust and follow Jesus, we will inevitably share to some degree in Jesus’ sufferings. Paul neither sought out opportunities to suffer nor did he avoid them when they might be the result of his trusting and following Jesus. We should do the same.

As Paul made clear in his second letter to the church in Corinth, his trust while suffering was not a “grin and bear it” approach. It came from his learning to rest in God’s grace:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

-2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV

So when you struggle to trust during suffering (or weaknesses) of any kind, rest in this promise:

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

-2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV


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