by Cynthia Ruchti

The Apostle Paul made a controversial statement in his letter to the Philippians, a letter so bulging with truth that it begs to be memorized…a goal for me for the new year.

Tucked among the “I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers”(Phil. 1:1 CEB) and “The one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job” (1:6 CEB) and “God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes” (2:13 CEB) lies this reason-to-be-thankful gem:

“God has generously granted you…”

Starts out well, don’t you think? Keep reading.

“God has generously granted you the privilege, not only of believing in Christ…”

As Thanksgiving approaches, how many will be gathered around a table thanking God for the privilege of believing in Christ? Between now and then, I’m spending time pondering the beauty in those words, the wonder in that truth.

But the sentence is not yet complete.

“God has generously granted you the privilege, not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for Christ’s sake,” Philippians 1:29 CEB.

Suffering for Christ’s sake. A privilege granted by God. That can’t mean what we think it does. Or does it? For the church to which Paul addressed his words in biblical times

Because this blog is specifically directed to novelists, and the Sunday editions are devoted to the spiritual health of a novelist, let’s consider the kinds of things novelists deal with that might land on the “suffering for Christ’s sake” spectrum.

  • It’s hard work to write a book.
  • A novelist has to give up much-loved hobbies and habits in order to write well.
  • Reviewers sometimes sabotage a book’s ratings.
  • Sales figures can be heartbreaking.
  • Those closest to you don’t always understand what it takes to be a writer.
Before the list gets any longer, let’s agree to one key point. That’s not the definition of suffering.
Many writers suffer. But the above list falls on the disappointment spectrum, not suffering.

Have we even begun to understand what it means to suffer for Christ? Have we ever considered that suffering for Him is a gift from God, a sign of His generosity toward us, one of the privileges He grants?

As Thanksgiving week dawns, it’s a concept that will occupy my mind in a new way. I pray it changes the way I approach the upcoming year and its challenges, too.

YOUR THOUGHTS: How difficult is it for you to consider suffering as a gift? How does that relate to the writing life?

Award-winning author and speaker Cynthia Ruchti–privileged to write for Him–tells stories hemmed in hope. Her latest novels include When the Morning Glory Blooms and All My Belongings, both from Abingdon Press. You can connect with Cynthia at cynthiaruchti.com or www.facebook.com/CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage.