Paul is in Rome, under house arrest, and facing an uncertain future. Yet he writes to the church at Philippi and tells them that what has happened to him has turned out for good. And he sets an example for us in responding to challenging circumstances in our own lives and in our service to God.
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
How can his arrest and imprisonment be good? Actually, Paul does not say that the imprisonment itself is good. Instead he says that the results of the imprisonment were good. Because of his time as a prisoner in Rome the gospel had been advanced. Paul mentions two specific areas of advancement, and we can identify a third.
First, the gospel had been made known throughout the place guard; those who took turns watching Paul. They might not otherwise have ever heard the good news. Secondly, Paul’s experience had encouraged others to boldly proclaim the gospel. His example had a very positive influence on other Roman believers. And, finally, several of Paul’s letters, including this one, were written during this time of captivity. Our Scripture is much richer for the time he was ‘stuck’ in prison.
When My Circumstances Are Challenging
There are times in my life when the opportunities to serve the Lord seem endless. Yet at other times those opened doors are closed and I am left wondering what is happening. But I find Paul’s words here to be encouraging. In whatever circumstances I find myself in, if I am faithful to God, he will use me, and his kingdom will be advanced. Rather than be discouraged by my circumstances, I should look forward to seeing what God will do with them. And to give thanks to him for all that he will do.