“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,
that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.
As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard
and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.
And because of my chains,
most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord
and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”
Philippians 1:12-14 (NIV)
We have been reflecting on the suffering of the apostle Paul as he is in chains as a Roman prisoner. Instead of focussing his efforts on getting out of the life threatening situation, he reviews with his readers the wonderful benefits that have come from his ordeal.
What he says in the verses for today is that there is a further entrance of the Gospel to the whole guard to whom he is chained. Paul sees victory through suffering. As F. Langbridge said:
Two men look out through the same bars:
One sees the mud, and the other stars.
Both people are in the same cell and while one chooses to focus on the difficulties of his imprisonment the other look up to the beautiful stars and is reminded of his Creator and His power and wisdom.
If the Lord cannot be exalted in the midst of your suffering then you need to pray for its removal. However, be careful about what you ask for. You may be wishing to be removed from the place of immense influence for the Lord. Think again of how you may be used right where you are. Ask yourself, “Who can be brought to Jesus by watching how I handle my problems?”
Often the Lord places a child of His in the hospital in order to bring the Gospel to some person in great need of the Saviour. A dear friend of mine who struggled greatly with poor health was admitted to the hospital again and again. During every admission and time in hospital, my friend found people to whom he could tell the Good News.
Look out for the reason why you suffer today and buy up the opportunities right where you are to exalt Jesus. He is waiting to use you and give you the victory through suffering.