When Paul wrote these words, he was in a Roman prison cell. Although he was imprisoned, he told the church in Philippi that he saw an opportunity for the gospel to make even greater advancement. BECAUSE of his difficult circumstance. In fact during this time of imprisonment, Paul wrote Ephesians, Philippians, AND Colossians. Even the palace guard was keenly aware that Paul was in prison for the cause of Christ. But Paul didn’t waste any opportunity to point others to Jesus. He even saw his suffering as an opportunity.
Can we say the same?
There is no doubt that we have all been in seasons of immense pain and suffering. Some of our difficult seasons have been longer than others. Whatever the circumstance, can you say that it gave you a chance to point people to Christ? Have you been able to give God glory in your season of hardship?
As Christians, we are certainly allowed our periods of grief, but God never allows us to suffer pain without a higher purpose. He is working in every situation, and we can either hinder His work by whining and complaining, or we can live through our suffering in such a way that others can’t help but see Jesus working in us. This doesn’t mean our pain and affliction should be taken lightly. By no means! But rather than others seeing us being defeated by it, let them see Him carrying us through it, refining us and sanctifying us more than we could have ever been without going through the suffering.
Paul’s imprisonment motivated the recipients of his letters to be bold in THEIR faith. Because they saw Paul’s ability to have boldness even when he was in chains. They were emboldened and encouraged by HIS faithful example.
David Guzik’s commentary in the Blue Letter Bible says this:
“Paul’s imprisonment gave the Christians around him – who were not imprisoned – greater confidence and boldness.
*They saw that God would take care of Paul in such circumstances.
*They saw that Paul had joy in the midst of such a trial.
*They saw that God could still use Paul even when he was imprisoned.”
Can the same be said when others see us during our trials? Can they see joy in us? Not a giddy or silly kind of joy. But an ability to give God praise in the midst of a storm. Are we exhibiting to those around us the grace and mercy God has bestowed by carrying us through our difficulty? Do others see God using us, despite what we are going through? The answer for the believer should be:
Those around us should be able to be encouraged by how they see us living, even during our darkest hours.
Our suffering CAN be the opportunity for Jesus to shine the brightest in us. Like a lighthouse during a hurricane. It should be our greatest desire for our faith to give OTHERS hope that they too can endure such sorrow. And not only to endure, but advance the cause of Christ in the midst of it.