“That I may know Him (Christ) and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Phillipians 3:10-11) This has been a favorite verse of mine since when I first became a Christian at age 19. The first sermon I ever preached was based on this verse. And this is still my hearts cry today.
I awoke yesterday morning with this intense desire of wanting to get alone with God. I had much on my mind. I felt pain in my heart as I thought about my little girl. I had many people that I wanted to pray for. I wanted to continue with my personal study on the Book of John. But as I closed my eyes to set my heart before the Lord, I just had this one compelling prayer…”Lord, I want to know you!” Over and over, I just thought about how much I really want to know Jesus. This really is my greatest desire. And yet so often I still settle in my lesser desires that come from this world rather than holding out and pursuing my higher and greater desire of knowing Him.
So, I was meditating on that verse and reading it over and over. It really is pretty radical what Paul states. He wants to know Jesus completely. I too want to know Jesus completely. He understands that to truly know Jesus, he must know Him not only in His resurrection power and glory, but also in His sufferings. If we want to follow hard after the living God, if we passionately state that we want to look like Jesus, if we proclaim that we want to walk as He walked, then we better understand what we are asking for. Yes, I’m certain that we as believers would all agree that we want to be like Jesus as we think of how glorious He is. We want to model after His holiness. We want to walk in His victory. We want to model His love and compassion. And most importantly, we want to live in resurrection power – resurrection of both our lives as we learn to rise above the things that have held us down, but ultimately resurrection of our lives for eternity as we live in Heaven with Him forever. Yes, I’m sure that every Christian wants to live like this, don’t you?
But what about the other part? What about the suffering side of Jesus? Do we realize that if if we truly want to become more like Jesus that it will mean also entering into the fellowship of His sufferings? Do we really want that? I think that people, if they’re anything like me, want to experience the resurrection power of Jesus without having to experience the suffering and death of Jesus. But how absurd is it to think that we can experience a resurrection without first experiencing a death? If we truly want to know Jesus with everything in us, then we are asking to enter into His suffering as well as His glory.
Do you still want to know Him? I DO!!!! It certainly was not my choice that I would come to know His sufferings by having my little girl taken from me by a horrible cancer. It is not my choice that my wife and I would enter more intimately into the sufferings of Jesus by crying on each other’s shoulders as we did last night because we miss our little girl more than anything. It is not my choice that sometimes I am now afraid to get alone with God because I know that in the quiet solitude the tears fall much more abundantly than in the busy-ness of the day. No, it would not have been my choice whatsoever, but in His great sovereignty, It was His choice that this is indeed what He would use so that I might know Him more. This was His choice of me, just like Paul, sharing in His sufferings and becoming like Him in His death.
And so, I must believe, as also Paul did, that if I am knowing Him by sharing in His sufferings, that I too am becoming like Him in His death so as to somehow attain to the resurrection of the dead! Yes, somehow He is using this greatest pain and suffering in my life so that I might attain to the resurrection. If He has brought me into the suffering of death, then surely He will bring me into the glory of the resurrection! And in this, both the suffering and the glory, will I truly say of my Lord, “I know Him.”
My, how things have changed in my life since that first sermon that I ever preached almost 20 years ago using this same verse in Phillipians 3: 10-11. But one thing that still remains unchanged no matter what has happened, no matter how much pain and suffering my heart has endured, my heart will still cry out, “that I might know Him!!!”