For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, (ESV)
We love to celebrate the wonderful grace of God which has given to us forgiveness of sin and the hope of eternal life. Rightfully so. Without God's grace we would be facing an eternity of punishment in Hell. God's grace is something we should celebrate every day of our lives. Yet, when we think of the gift of God's grace we do not think of suffering. Paul has some news for us.
Paul says it has been "granted" that we should suffer for his sake. Here is what Dr. John MacArthur says about this word "granted":
"The Greek verb translated “granted” is from the noun for grace. Believers’ suffering is a gift of grace that brings power (2 Cor. 7:9–10; 1 Pet. 5:10) and eternal reward."
- Dr. John MacArthur, Online Study Bible Notes
We have been given the gift of suffering. That gift brings power and reward. I have heard people pray for God's power. I have heard people ask for God's reward. I have not heard people pray that they would experience the suffering that God would give them. This gift is one that we try to refuse. We often pray that God would take away all of our suffering.
If we truly love Jesus, we will want to be like him. What is he like? The character of Jesus Christ is one of sacrificial love. God laid down his life for ours. How can we say that we desire to be like him if we are not also willing to lay down our lives for others. When we love sacrificially others will see our testimony as powerful and full of integrity.
One of the gifts that God has given to us the gift of suffering. As you go through dark times know that you are not alone. God will use the suffering to bring integrity to your testimony.