Dr. Stephen Phinney
For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me. (Php 1:29-30)
While our family considers it a privilege to suffer, watching loved ones undergo such testing is not easy.
A few weeks ago, my precious wife and daughter decided to help a neighbor diagnosed with COVID. After calculating the cost, we all agreed the risks were worth it. Thus, both reached out to assist. Within a few days, both came down with COVID. Not long afterward, I fell to this debilitating virus.
I knew that this suffering would be a testing of our faith, which left no room for self-pity. Particularly when those we help fall to the demise of, “The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” (Luk 8:14)
This is why self-pity has no room in the inn for suffering for the sake of laying one’s life down for another.
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ… (1Pe 1:6-7)
Honestly, even though we clearly understand the Biblical theology of our decision, watching my wife embrace the cost of our decision has been one of my greatest trials. So much so, yesterday I broke down weeping after seeing the look of death on her frail body. Was the price tag for these actions of compassion too great? Then I am reminded of what Peter said.
Beloved, 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; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. (1Pe 4:12-13)
My greatest struggle is in watching Jane suffer from the possibility of losing her life for another. Anyone who knows our devotion to each other knows she is my spiritual hero. Humanly speaking, the thought of this is beyond what I could bear. I have known ‘spiritual giants’ most of my ministry life. However, I have known few who have a level of faith like Jane.
Jesus wants us to have the same mind He possesses. Since Christ suffered and underwent pain for the sake of others, we must have the same attitude He did; we must be ready to suffer, too. When our body suffers, sin loses its power, and we won’t spend our lives chasing after fleshly logic but will be anxious to do the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1-2) Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, we need to arm ourselves also with the mind of Christ within us because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for selfish & self-protective reasons but rather for the will of God.
Jesus wants us to trust Him to help us. Since He Himself has now been through suffering and temptation, He knows what it is like when we suffer and are tempted, and He is wonderfully able to help us. (Hebrews 2:18) Because Jesus Himself suffered when He was tempted, He can help those who are being tempted. As for me, it would be trusting Jesus in His plans of death and or healing.
Christ wants us to release His Life through His indwelling when all seems to come against our beliefs. I intellectually get the fact that we get NO credit for being patient if we are beaten for doing wrong, but God is well pleased if we do right and suffer for it and are patient beneath the blows. This suffering is all part of the work God has given us. Christ, who suffered for us, is our example. Walking in His steps. (1 Peter 2:20-21)
I believe every word I have written today. Although, it challenges my greatest fear – the possibility of losing my one flesh. Honestly, it reaches for a level of faith I cannot muster. This trail will require the Faith of Christ Himself.
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