For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.
It's not one of our favourite themes, suffering. We like to moan about what is or isn't happening for us, but we don't like to think of suffering in any form being a part of our faith journey. So how do you avoid wallowing in self-pity or appearing to search out suffering for the sake of some strange religious desire?
The key to a proper perspective on suffering lies in Paul's close connection that he draws between the believer and Christ himself. We suffer on behalf of Christ, we believe on him, we are in him, we live for him. For those who look on from the outside, suffering is a sign of failure or destruction. But for those who believe, suffering is a symbol of identification with Jesus. It is an expression of what it means to live as citizens, to shine as stars, to live a life worthy.
For Paul and for the Philippians, believing in Jesus brought suffering into their lives. It drove them deeper into the arms of the one who suffered for them. Don't let your suffering pull you away from Jesus, let it drive you to him.