Suffering and death

When I type suffering and death, I immediately think “That’s bad.” Who wants to suffer and die? I surely don’t, and yet… I do. You see, Philippians 3:10-11 says, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if the verse stopped at resurrection? I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection! Amen, sister. Me, too!

But it doesn’t stop there. There’s something about participating in His suffering and becoming like Him in His death that allows us to experience the power of His resurrection. Being raised from the dead would be kind of meaningless if we didn’t actually die.

Frances Roberts writes in her book, “Come Away My Beloved”, “For I shelter the newborn from many of the trials and tests I permit to confront those who are growing up in spiritual stature. You cannot grow unless I bring into your lives these proving and testing experiences.”

As protected as I felt as a newborn in my faith, I didn’t want to stay there forever. I want to experience Christ’s resurrection power, and yes, even His sufferings and His death. Because all of these testing experiences bring me closer to Him, to the One that I love more than anything. And being closer to Him fills me in a way that no earthy comfort or security can, in a way that makes all else pale in comparison.

There’s an old hymn called “I’d Rather Have Jesus” that we sang at church last Sunday. I like this hymn and what it means. But as I sang it last Sunday, I realized that many of it’s lyrics were not applicable. For instance:

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands.
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway.
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have to choose between the option of having silver and gold or Jesus. And no one has offered me any kingships (or queenships) lately. So saying I’d rather have Jesus than to be a king isn’t really that hard for me. Here is how I might rewrite it, given my circumstances lately:

(I’d rather have Jesus) Than to have my health and feel well and strong, to be fit and to be healed. I’d rather have Jesus than anything. To His Presence I am sealed.

I’m no lyricist, but you get the point. I’d rather have Jesus than anything that my life can offer me, including comfort, security, and yes, even health. I still pray He will heal me and that my healing will bring Him glory as I shout His goodness to the ends of the earth. But if He chooses not to heal me, than I will still shout His goodness to the ends of the earth. And I will know that His grace is sufficient for me.

Thank you, Sweet, Sweet Jesus, for your mercy, for your love and for your goodness. Thank you for the privilege of sharing in your suffering. You are worth more than silver or gold, more than lands or houses, more than health or family. You are everything.

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