By James Metsger
that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)
Recently, I read the following from an unreliable source on social media:
Coronavirus claims a black belt. Chuck Norris, dead at 77. Carlos Ray “Chuck” Norris, famous actor and fighter, died yesterday afternoon at his home in Northwood Hills, TX. Chuck starred in dozens of movies and tv series which continue to entertain millions of people.
He was also a master of martial arts, which was the cause of his initial fame in the movie industry.
However, after the minor inconvenience of his death, Chuck has made a full recovery and is reported to be doing quite well.
I don’t know if you’ve read Chuck Norris jokes, but they’re pretty funny. Things like, “While learning CPR, Chuck Norris brought the dummy back to life.” Admit it, you at least smiled!
“After the minor inconvenience of his death, Chuck has made a full recovery, and is reported to be doing quite well.” That’s power! Resurrection power. On the whole resurrections are not on the rise, but do you know that there is resurrection power that is yours and mine in Christ? The power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that resides in us. Paul wanted to more fully know both Christ and the power of his resurrection. I’m tracking with him here! I would love to experience more of that power. But just when he has me hooked, he takes a hard right turn when he end with, “. . . and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10)
I was excited about the resurrection power part, but sharing in his suffering? Becoming like him in his death? I might need to pray about that one. “I’m right behind you, Paul! You go ahead. I’ll catch up.”
The Bible teaches us that God’s people will suffer. Peter gives us fair warning when he says, “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). Suffering comes in so many different forms, but the type Paul refers to here can be so painful because it doesn’t stem from our decisions or our own sin.
Paul is talking about doing good and suffering because of it. God’s word prepares us for the prospect of suffering because we love and obey Jesus. Acts 14:22 says that Paul told all his young churches, “…through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom.” Paul truly lived this out. Prior to saying this, he had healed a lame man. Angered by this, Jews came to the place where he was preaching and so agitated the crowd against him, they picked up rocks and stoned him. Dragging his body out of town, they left him for dead, but Paul miraculously got up and went right on preaching. I guess he was feeling some of that power he was talking about. Paul knew tribulation, and so did Jesus. He wasn’t trying to hide the cost of following him when he said, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (John 15:20).
Paul taught that suffering in the Christian life is to be expected. “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Though we need not look forward to it, we can be assured that it serves a purpose and reveals what is truly valuable. Suffering refines our faith and forms endurance in us. It is a tool used by God to create Christlikeness and draw us to him.
Rest well because God’s resurrection power is yours. Prepare for tribulation. Suffering may come. But be full of hope because your resurrection awaits! One day your headline will read, “After the minor inconvenience of death, (insert name) has made a full recovery, and is reported to be doing quite well” I think I read that somewhere. And it wasn’t social media.
When have you recently experienced the power of God in your life?
How has God used suffering and hardship in your life to form and shape you?