“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” – Philippians 1:12-14
In a season of my life where I was feeling a lot of conflict, oppression from the spiritual realm, and negative experiences in life, I found myself searching for answers as to why these things happened. Why was life occurring the way it was? Not only has 2020 been difficult, it also has rocked my little community in unimaginable ways, making this an even more complexly challenging year. I found my seeking out the answer to the age old question—why do bad things happen?
While a lot of the Bible argues that God’s ways are above ours and He has these ways of working things for our good (cf. Gen 50:19-20, Jer 5:22, Rom 8:28), Paul makes quite a few assertions as to what the purpose of these circumstances is, and our purpose statement as believers.
>>Purpose Statement #1: Our tough times are times where God can further the Gospel.<<
Paul states here that his times of trials, his imprisonments, and everything negative that has happened to him was accomplished to advance the Gospel. What does that look like? I’m sure many of us know people with very emotional testimonies with a lot of hard times and just as many God-sightings and joyous turnarounds. God often uses stories with hard times in them to move in ways that show that only He could have rescued the individual. God may be working a saving testimony in our hard times.
This passage (Phil. 1:12-14) also reminds me of the Dispersion of the believers we see in Acts. As the church was persecuted in Rome, many people had no choice but to uproot their home and to flee to distant areas, all while carrying their faith with them. When they arrive in these areas, these on-fire believers filled with the Gospel simply spread it in their new areas, meaning the growth of the church became exponential:
“And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” – Acts 8:1b
God furthers His kingdom even through hard circumstances. And while this pain might be a lot, there’s still joy that comes in the morning.
“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” – Psalm 30:5b