“Even if I am executed here and now, I’ll rejoice in being an element in the offering of your faith that you make on Christ’s altar, a part of your rejoicing. But turnabout’s fair play — you must join me in my rejoicing. Whatever you do, don’t feel sorry for me.” (Philippians 2:17-18 MSG)
I’m in awe of this type of sacrificial living because Paul makes laying himself on the altar of God’s will look effortless. I have so many questions for Paul because recently I began to struggle deeply with sacrificing my plans and hopes so that God’s plans and hopes can exist through me.
Two years ago I had two miscarriages back to back. Each pregnancy I begged God to let my babies live. And both times God told me no. I bled and cried. I sat on the edge of the altar too hurt to lay back down or to jump off. Two years later I am still sitting on the edge. I ask a lot of questions, but my heaviest is one of practicality: How? Literally how do I do this?
If I knew how to lay my fragile heart down and trust through painful sacrifice I would.
I move through each month by moving through each day by moving through each hour, each minute, each second — and the stream of sunlight inches along the floor centimeter by centimeter and I write through these strange places in my heart by building letter after letter.
This experience of battling through hard questions about sacrifice makes Paul’s attitude in these verses so meaningful to me — I am slowly coming to understand that Paul was able to rejoice even while in painful sacrifice was because it was what he was already doing when he came to the point where he began to ponder his own martyrdom.
There is no secret of how to do the difficult work of sacrifice but there is a method: we can live sacrificially for the moment we are currently in and then do it for the next moment and then do it for the next and the next and the next.
We do not have to muster up all of the faith and strength required for every single Kingdom-focused choice at once.
We simply need to live faithfully in the now so that it will be what we are already doing when we are faced with great sacrifice.
We can trust that when that time arrives God will provide us with the faith and strength to live faithfully through those times of big sacrifice too.
Today: Read Philippians 2:17-18