Daily Devotional

Philippians 1:12

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me, has really served to advance the gospel.

I’m currently teaching through the book of Philippians with the students at the Maple campus. This book is full of great content and what makes that content even more powerful is the context under which it was written.

Paul wrote the book of Philippians while imprisoned, likely under house arrest in Rome. It certainly would have been demoralizing for many of the believers, especially those in churches founded by Paul to hear that such a leader in the faith had been arrested. While awaiting his trial, Paul writes a letter to encourage the Philippians. Let me say that again, Paul writes a letter to the Philippians to encourage them…while he is in prison!

In the first few verses of this letter Paul speaks of being thankful (1:3), of having joy (1:4), and of how he is praying for the Philippians (1:4, 9). Paul then goes on in verse 12 to let them know that all that has happened has actually been for the advance of the Gospel.

How does he have such an attitude while facing such dour circumstances? I believe this all comes down to Paul’s area of focus. If Paul had only focused on his circumstances and what was happening to him then I think the letter to the Philippians would have been very different (if it even happened at all). Instead, Paul kept his focus on what God was doing in the midst of his circumstances. Yes, He is imprisoned, BUT he’s imprisoned in the heart of the Roman empire. Those who would otherwise have never heard the Gospel are hearing it, and even other believers are becoming more bold by seeing how Paul is facing his imprisonment (Philippians 1:13-14). He doesn’t take joy in the challenges themselves, but in what God is doing in the midst of those challenges.

So often we are in a rush to get through difficult circumstances (and rightly so) but, like Paul, we should look and see what God is doing in the midst of our difficult circumstances. No, this isn’t to say, “just put on a smile” and everything will be better. In no way is this to downplay the difficulties that we face. Christians face hardships and suffering like everyone else, but we do not face it alone and we do not suffer without hope (Romans 5:3-5).

Whatever difficulty you are facing, by all means, look forward with eager expectation to when you will be on the other side of it, but also look around right now with expectation to see what God is doing. God’s work does not get put on pause when difficulty hits. God walks with you through difficult times and He is still at work in your life in difficult times.
"English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers."