This devotion was originally written for the Chase Oaks Church website. Read the Devotion on the Chase Oaks website…..
Philippians 1:12–18 (NASB)
“12Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,13so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,14and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.15Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will;16the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel;17the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.18What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will rejoice,”
Struggles in life are never fun. I don’t think I have ever heard someone say, “I could go for a good life struggle right now.” When I am going through difficulties, I’m not usually thankful.
Paul was in prison when writing to the Philippians, and, back in Paul’s time, prison was an even more horrible place than it is today. Despite his misery, Paul was thankful because the message of Jesus Christ was spreading because of his imprisonment. People were talking about Paul being in prison, which led to asking why he was there, which led to talking about Jesus; and talking about Jesus was all Paul wanted people to be doing. In his mind, if him being in prison made that happen, then hooray for being in prison. Wow! Imagine having that outlook during every struggle we encounter in life.
When I was a teenager, my father was diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer, and there was nothing they could do for him. However, instead of wallowing in self-pity, becoming depressed, or working on his bucket list, my dad was selfless and chose to help others. My dad spent the final two years of his life being poked, prodded, tested, and going through experimental treatments that made him feel miserable. I’ll be honest; I was not thankful while I was watching him go through that, and I wasn’t selfless either. I wanted my dad back to normal so my life could go back to normal.
Looking back, I am thankful for what my dad went through because, occasionally, I meet someone who has survived cancer through one of those experimental treatments. I also know that the doctors working with my dad became believers and started a Bible study. My dad’s selflessness created fruit both in the medical world and in God’s kingdom.
Being thankful for a trial after the fact can be easy, but God asks us to trust Him, be thankful, and pray that others would come to know Him because of our struggle—while we are still in it.
Written by Diana Wells
Wife of Gerry, mother of Caleb, child of God.