Nature, of course, shrinks from suffering: still when it comes, if we are with God, strength and joy are there. I have found in the little difficulties I have had, much more trial in excepting trial than when it was there. When there I was calm and quiet, and no way uneasy - whereas I was when expecting it. Out of it, if it threatens, you are thinking of it. In it, you are looking out of it to the Lord. Of course, there must be the power of the Holy Ghost. It is true I have a sadly fearful mind. But Paul (Philippians) was there in presence of the danger. He was in presence of his trial for his life, but he was surely wonderfully sustained. Still it was not a question of avoiding but going through, and then comparatively it is easy.
The difference of nature and the power of the Spirit you see in comparing Philippians 3 and Mark 10 - in this, in the young man, you have legal righteousness - all given up as worthless in Philippians 3: money clung to in Mark 10 - all gain to self, dross and dung in Phil. 3: the disciples amazed and following trembling in Mark - a privilege to have the fellowship of His sufferings in Philippians iii. But in Philippians you have the full power of the Spirit all through. Sin is never mentioned in the epistle, nor flesh as affecting the experience of the apostle. It is the experience of one living in the Spirit, in its power, and is exceedingly beautiful in this light, in every respect - does not know which to choose, death or life - one gain, the other labour for Christ; and so, self having gone, he decides his own trial, for it was good for them he should stay - Christ had all power, so he was going to stay: the same mind as Christ in going down to the death of the cross, and so, perfect and delicate consideration for others admirably coming out in unconscious fruit: energy in following Christ before him as his object in glory - to win Christ, and then with the resurrection from among the dead: a humbled Christ formed the character glorified one gives the energy of "this one thing I do:" then superiority through experimental acquaintance, with Christ's sufficiency, to all circumstances. It is the Epistle of proper Christian experience. I do not think he was asking for trial, though we may desire generally to have fellowship in Christ's sufferings: that one can earnestly do. "To you it is given not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his name's sake." But one does not desire suffering in itself. Only when there, they are a subject of all joy. Faith is given for them. He was in prison and just awaiting his trial. But he could say, in his ordinary life of service, "without were fightings, within were fears; nevertheless, God who comforteth those who are cast down," etc.
As to suffering for Christ, I am sure if the Lord lead one into trial for His name, He will give us strength to glorify Him. We can do nothing. But if living with Him in the secret of our souls, we shall not find it hard to die for Him. See how bright Stephen was, how quiet, kneeling down to pray for them. He was full of the Holy Ghost. We have to pray that we may be so filled, that what comes forth may be Christ, and Christ fittingly for what is before us. I find this a great test in practice of how far I am practically identified in spirit with Him. From Him came forth not merely what was right, but just the right thing in what He had to do or say. . . .