“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection...”
— Philippians 3:10a (NRSV)
There is a way of life that is so far beyond stoicism, though it looks exactly like stoicism, but far outweighs it. The stoic controls their will, conforming it to nature, and calling it virtue. Stoicism is deterministic and, therefore, quite accurate and helpful as a philosophy for life. But faith in Christ far surpasses it, though it may at times look like a carbon-copy.
What is missing in Stoicism that is so necessary in enjoying the abundant life of Jesus is the measure of grace added to what underpins our faith.
So, we may achieve the same results, in living in harmony with whatever becomes us, but unlike the stoic, we derive our power to achieve this from God. It comes not of our own effort. Grace cannot be explained, just experienced.
We can think of any example of loss or ruin or betrayal we choose and what follows will still apply.
As we count every example of loss or ruin or betrayal, or any other significant problem or issue of life, as its own gain—for what has not yet arrived, but is just as certainly coming—we express faith and we please God. And God blesses those who please him, never forgetting that it is only by faith that we can please him.
It is not about denying the truth of the grief we feel. This is not about ignoring the grief-work we need to tackle. And it can’t be about remaining blind.
No, as we hold two balls in the air at the same time—the ball of grief and the ball of faith—we are somehow met with grace; the power of God indwells us. Suddenly we experience power we have never experienced before, or if we have experienced it we recognise it straight away as the help of God in our time of need.
Counting every loss as its own gain, we are blessed by the experiential knowledge that nothing we experience in this world can defeat us. We experience the realities of Romans chapter 8. If God is for us, nothing could be against us.
This power of Christ—God’s grace—raises us. It’s Jesus’ resurrection life.
Counting every loss as its own gain is the gospel secret powering life. The more loss we suffer the more gain we can experience, because of the unfathomable grace of God. But to experience this power we need to count every loss as its very own gain, without denying the truth (the grief) in each loss. That takes strength and courage. God provides these.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.