Read Philippians 1:12-18
It’s hard to imagine that trials and our terrible circumstances would actually bring good. In the midst of hard times and suffering, we can’t see past the pain and so we stop believing God is with us or working in our suffering.
Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
For those that love God and are in His will, He works ALL things for good.
All work for good. This doesn’t mean all things ARE good, but that God can use even the most painful places in our life for good.
Do you believe that?
While I don’t know what it’s like to be wrongfully accused and put in prison, I do know what it’s like to have figurative “chains” that I can’t break out of.
My husband and I have walked through infertility for 3 1/2 years. Believe me, if there’s any circumstance we’re trying to pray our way out of, it’s this. Yet, like Paul, I can say “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel” because I have seen this first hand. My suffering has allowed me to sit with others who are suffering in the same way and point them to Jesus. Do I want out, YES! Do I ask God to change my circumstance, YES! But in the meantime, I’ve learned that God is working all things for my good, even when they don’t feel good, and I trust that His plan and purpose for my life and those around me is bigger than what my eyes can see and my heart can feel.
I can grow bitter and weary or I can redeem the pain and use it to spread the Gospel.
I think that’s Paul’s point in these first 18 verses. He is showing us that even circumstances that seem hopeless can be used to bring God glory. We just have to be willing to look past the pain, and look up in praise.
1. What is the result of Paul’s imprisonment in verses 13-14?
2. What does it mean to proclaim Christ? Why is Paul comparing this between love and selfish ambition?
3. Is there a circumstance that you are praying your way out of? Have you grown weary? Bitter? Angry? What would it look like to ask God to redeem the pain rather than remove the pain?
This is a lot to ask of someone, and I honestly don’t think we can truly praise God in the midst of pain (not for the pain, but praise Him in the midst of pain) unless we truly understand the Gospel. So again, remind yourself who God is and what He’s done for you. Read here for more on “What is the Gospel” or visit the website “Self-Talk the Gospel” for resources on how to keep a Gospel perspective during suffering.