Blogger and soon-to-be published author Sara Hagerty recently tweeted, “If knowing Him more intimately is my end goal, there’s not one single thing I will face today that can’t serve to draw me into this.”
Sara reminds me of Paul.
In Philippians 3, Paul weighs the world’s value system against Jesus. Nothing – not family background, not religious background, not social status – outweighs knowing Jesus. In fact, in my favorite verse of the Bible, Paul makes the claim that he now views all of his assets as losses “because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8).
A glimpse of Jesus’ beauty changes the way we measure the value of everything else.
While knowing Jesus is incomparably valuable, it is also achieved in the “everyday-ness” of life. It’s the most valuable thing in the world, but it can happen in the most ordinary of moments – on the level paths, on the mountain peaks, and even in the valleys of life. In fact, as God would have it, some of the experiences we are most prone to resent are actually invitations to grow in our intimacy with Jesus.
Let me explain. When faced with setbacks, disappointments, discouragements, failures, and hardships, we are especially prone to cry out to Jesus. There’s something about suffering that puts us on the fast track, so to speak, to growth in our relationship with Jesus. Paul calls this “the fellowship of His sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). It’s an invitation to know Jesus on a level we can’t reach through ease alone. As Hagerty also tweeted, “When we see suffering as a chance to know a new nearness to God, our circumstances get redefined.”
It bears reminding that God does not overlook evil. We don’t ignore pain or excuse sin. But we don’t let those realities define us, either. What is meant for evil, God is both willing and able to use for our good and His glory (see Genesis 50:20).
Through tragedy and triumph, poverty and prosperity, we grow in a relationship that’s more valuable than winning the lottery a million times. John Piper beautifully expresses this concept when he says, “Christ is glorified in me when people see He is more precious to me than all that life can give or death can take.” He’s not just precious on the deathbed; He’s precious in the daily grind of an average workweek.
Every moment of life is an opportunity to know Jesus better. No experience is excluded. And it is especially true that the most challenging of circumstances are what propel us into deeper, more joyful fellowship with our Savior. In the memorable words of Charles Spurgeon, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”
Today, thank God for any wave that graces your life by throwing you against that blessed Rock.