Links Daily Devotional

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Pain and Preparation

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him. (Philippians 1:29, NIV)

Surely J.B. Holmes is hoping for a better 2014. The long-bombing two-time winner on the PGA Tour faced a harrowing brain surgery in the fall of 2011, an event that caused him to say, “You’ve just got to put your faith in God and just hope everything comes out good.” For the most part it did. Doctors removed the malformations they were after, but much of Holmes’ 2012 season was lost.

Then in 2013, after just five early tournaments, Holmes hit a rut. Literally. He was rollerblading near his home in Florida and broke his ankle. He didn’t walk 18 holes again until late September.

It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without suffering. After all, there is no such thing. But when it starts to pile itself on us as though we’ve prayed for it all, it sets you to wondering to just what is going on here.

In Scripture, however, we get some insights for our wondering, explanations for our suffering. To the Philippians, Paul wrote that it is “granted to you…to suffer” for Christ and “I want to share in [Christ’s] suffering.” James exhorted us to “count it all joy when we encounter trials.” Peter chimed in: “Since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.”

Suffering is our human lot, whether we are in Christ or apart from him. But, as the apostles were aware, another layer—maybe even another degree—of suffering comes to us because we choose Christ. A preaching Links Player in Southern California is not kidding when he says, “New levels, new devils!” Because you have chosen to identify with Christ, you must be prepared to identify with him in every way: in challenge, in ridicule, in dismissal, in persecution, even in physical pain.

Not all of these sufferings have been true of all God’s people in every place or time. But we must recognize that suffering allows us to better understand the price Christ paid on our behalf, as well as to grow in characteristics he desires to see in us. We do not do well to sidestep suffering, if only because it gives us great hope for the life that is to come.

Jeff Hopper
November 8, 2013
Copyright 2013 Links Players International
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