There are days that sometimes roll into seasons where life and ministry in the Kingdom of God seems so tough. We strive forward even when there appears to be little fruit. We are frequently rejected. We are discouraged. We are hard pressed on every side. We walk alongside the lonely and often feel lonely ourselves.
I'm studying Philippians at the moment and I am challenged by Paul's incredible attitude to his circumstances. How often do I serve God but wish he had given me a different life to live? I question God's kindness and his strategic plan. I think I know better than God. I begrudgingly surrender to his will for me. Paul was in prison and yet his trust in God was unshakeable – but more than that, he JOYFULLY accepted his circumstances and thanked God for them.
I have much growing to do, but the good news is there is so much grace to be had.
Christ understands what it is to be rejected, to walk alongside the lonely. And Christ knows exactly how it feels to lay down your life.
Paul urges us to rejoice in the Lord. That is, to feel and show great joy and delight in Christ. This is true worship. Our church family gatherings should be celebratory. Our whole lives should be marked by joy and hope and thankfulness, despite our circumstances. Paul says, 'But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord' (Philippians 3:7-8).
Nothing in this world can compete with the precious worth of knowing Christ as our Lord. No relationship, no friendship group, no big house, no holiday, no amount of money or possessions, no planning ahead, no ministry even, can compete with knowing Christ.
As we rejoice in the Lord and keep our eyes on him, we are protected from believing we know better than God. We are protected from believing the lies of those around us. As we humbly repent and seek God, crying out to him for his power in our weakness, we are able to stand firm in our faith. We are able to strive forward with others, encouraging each other to persevere for the sake of the gospel. We are able to suffer well for the sake of the gospel.
And we are able to keep going to the places where Jesus would go: to the lost and lonely, the hurting, the homeless, those without hope, the physically poor and the spiritually poor. As we lay down our lives in the way of Jesus, we can remember our true home is in heaven and one day we will be there and say with Paul 'for me to live is Christ and to die is gain'.
Lizzie Bassford is a wife, mum and missionary living in inner-city Manchester. Follow her on Twitter @captivated01.