My men’s small group is currently going through a devotional on contentment (see plug below). So far it has been a good spiritual exercise, and of some real personal benefit. Here is one verse brought out by this study/meditation, which stuck out to me; “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…” (Philippians 1:29). Here Paul tells the Philippians that God has ordained that the Philippian church should suffer for Jesus. God grants them suffering, for the sake of Christ. Their trial is not a great evil, but a divine gift. Consider that! God, in all His infinite wisdom and love, sometimes decides that what is best for His church, for you and for me, is to suffer. Consider that in the midst of trying times. Consider that your trials may not be accidents, but gifts from God to grow you, and tools for God to bring glory to Jesus through you. Knowing this gives us a mature, truly Christian perspective in life. Our God will intentionally take us through trial, particularly trial for Christ’s sake. As we follow Jesus, expect times of stress and obstacle. It’s not strange or unexpected, but exactly how God operates. His goal is not to give you a perfect life here and now, but to prepare you for glory later. That means that current trials and sufferings can be a divine gift, growing you and preparing you for heaven. May the Lord continue to prepare all of us for eternal perfection with Him.