By Jill Miner
Philippians 3:10-11 …”that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
The other week, I reached out to a friend for prayer. I was feeling “perplexed, but not in despair” (2 Cor 4:8). My friend said I was at the bottom of the “J Curve”. What?? It’s when your sufferings deepen your union with Christ. This term is based on a book called The J Curve by Paul Miller. Well, I bought the book and by God’s grace, it has helped to change my view on suffering and the Gospel of Christ. There is a pattern in the Christian life of suffering (down) and resurrecting (up), just like the letter J for Jesus. You can think of it as lows to highs vs. highs to lows.
Jesus’ example: Phil 2:5-11 – he humbled Himself to death on a cross (down) and now is exalted above every name (up).
Fellowship in sufferings, conformed to His death & resurrection: Romans 6:5 “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.” Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” James 4:10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” 1Peter 4:12-13 “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” See the pattern? Down and up. Identifying with Christ’s sufferings & death to His resurrection and glory.
To know Him more: I was amazed seeing this “J Curve” pattern. How could I miss this? I guess it’s kind of like when you buy a new car, then notice everyone else around who has one like yours. It’s throughout Scripture like I’ve never seen it before! Identifying with Christ and drawing closer to Him through His sufferings, death (down) and seeing the joy and hope we have in his resurrection (up). Some practical examples of our “mini deaths”: rejection (on many levels), physical discomfort, broken relationships, loneliness, being misunderstood, and/or falsely accused … to name a few. So we can chose to resent (obey the flesh) or rejoice (obey the Spirit). It has revealed my sinful nature during sufferings…”I don’t deserve this”, “I’m going to fix this”, etc … pride, control, bitterness, anger vs. humility, trust, forgiveness, love. “Oh what a wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24)
I hope this will encourage, give hope, joy and freedom to anyone dealing with suffering. It’s not new to the Christian life. My hope is the body of Christ can see it as an opportunity to know our Savior in a deeper way and strengthen our faith in Him alone for His glory and our good. Look for what God may be teaching you through your trials. “Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord-That the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11)
1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead