Sweet Pain

Michael Beck

“For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:8)

Paul suffered greatly. He felt deeply. Like Jesus, he was not one given over to self-pity. When the women of Jerusalem wept at the sight of Christ’s pitiable frame, He told them: “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.” (Luke 23:28)

Paul enjoined the saints at Rome to “weep with them that weep.” (Rom. 12:15) The apostle’s focus was not on the wrongs done to him; but he was greatly affected by what others were going through. “Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?” (2 Cor. 11:29) His primary concern was whether his converts were standing in the midst of the suffering they faced.

“For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain. But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” (1 Thes. 3:5-8)

Paul spoke both of the mind and the bowels of Jesus Christ. When we walk in the mind of Christ our chief concern is for another. When we have the bowels of Christ we have godly affection for another and feel deeply the trials they’re going through. We want to see them come out on top. We want them to stand in an evil day, and in their hour of temptation.

Are we only concerned for our own things? Are all our emotions bound up in what is happening to us? To grow up in Christ is to be increasingly filled with His Spirit. Such will move us to act because the mind and feelings of Christ are at work in us.

Forsake the bitter pain that grips the self-consumed. Embrace the sweet pain that witnesses you are one with the Spirit of Christ.

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.