One way to think of the book of Philippians is to see it as a tale of love and loss.  Jesus came in love, but it cost him something—his status and life (2:5-11). Paul overflowed with love for God and for the church, but following Christ cost him something—his freedom (1:13). Epaphroditus brought a gift from the Philippian church to Paul, but he nearly died because of the mission (2:25-27).

I enjoy time with the Lord in the quiet of the early morning with my cup of coffee. I like it when team meetings go smoothly. I enjoy feeling productive. It feels good when we have extra money in our budget, and when our boys are doing well. These are good gifts of the Lord.  

But I lose confidence in the face of loss, whether actual or potential. I hesitate to step into difficult or scary conversations, including conflict with my family or sharing Christ with others. I fear failure, financial insecurity, and not knowing how to help when someone I love is suffering. I want to run from grief. I shrink from the unknown when I don’t see a path through.

Philippians chapter 3 helps me see how we can have courage in loss and suffering. I notice that Paul’s ultimate goal isn’t for his freedom to be restored. It is to know and be united with Christ. Somehow, as we face loss we know Christ better in it. For to know Christ is to know that he willingly emptied himself to become a servant and pay the ultimate price. There is no uncertainty, insecurity, temptation, or pain that he doesn’t understand. What’s more, God set it up that we can actually know Christ better in trials than when things are going well.

I don’t have it all figured out, but it’s clear that Christ’s love is the reward of our suffering. If this is true, then we can endure as we live our own story of love and loss.

Thank you, Lord, that you are with me in the good times and bad. You have never left my side and it is comforting to know that your love is consistent because that's who you are. Help me rest in your love today. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Throughout this Day: In the unknown and in your grief, reflect on the assurance you have in Jesus — he loves you and will return to make all things new again.

Tags: Daily Devotional Philippians 3
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