In kindergarten I joined the Pixies . . . a precursor to the Brownies in Girl Scouts. I loved the little green uniform, and I remember clearly the initiation ceremony where I was presented with an acorn for membership and given a list of patches I’d need to earn.
I also remember learning the song, “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.”
And now, as a military spouse who has had to move every couple years over the past 16 years of my marriage, I completely understand the meaning of that song and how precious old friends are.
Because old friends know all your stories. They have been there to celebrate the wins and mourn the losses with you. I think we all have that friend who really truly knows us.
This kind of intimacy is earned by investing in the friendship. This means, too, that I may have to sacrifice some things to make room for cultivating this space. Even suffer, if you will, in order to make accommodations for my friends. This suffering may be executed in an empathetic manner — holding a friends’ hand while she goes through a tough time, or sacrificing resources (time, money, energy) to support a friend’s endeavors.
And that brings me to today’s devotional.
So, here we are in Philippians 3:8-11. And Paul is telling us not only that nothing else matters except knowing Christ. But in order to get to truly know Christ in the most intimate way, he wants to know Christ “in the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings…”
To be honest, that doesn’t really sound appealing . . . I mean, yes, I think we all want to know Christ and be in relationship with Him. Yet, we also know that in order for Christ to have resurrected, He first had to be crucified. And I don’t think any of us are lining up to be crucified.
Selfishly I wonder, “Can’t I know Christ in a more comfortable way?”
Jesus Himself wasn’t looking forward to the crucifixion and implored the Father for an alternate plan before ultimately submitting to the will of God and the plan for our salvation.
Crucifixion is an awful, bloody, excruciating disaster.
So why was crucifixion the thing Paul thought was the most crucial key to relationship?
It seems to me that since the crucifixion is what made reconciliation between us and the Father possible and also what allows us to be called “children of God,” it is also how God showed how dearly He loves us and how much He was willing to sacrifice on our behalf. It was the GREATEST show of love and friendship in the existence of the world. And finally, as a result of Jesus’ suffering, He is now our ultimate sympathizer. He understands and he cares when we hurt.
Jesus offers us a comfort unrivaled by any other.
Ultimately, I think Paul understood that by identifying in Christ’s suffering, even his death, he could see past his present discomfort and look toward Jesus, the One who conquered the grave, who gives joy in spite of our suffering and, as Denise Hughes writes, “Waiting on God to make all things right again is where our hope is found” (87).
And in our suffering, Jesus is our hope.
Today: Read Philippians 3:8-11