Depending on the kind of suffering involved it is hard to see the light that it can bring. That light at the end of the tunnel seems distant. When St. Paul was writing to the church in Philippi he was writing to reassure them. He wants to encourage them to continue in the faith.
The Suffering Evangelist
The church founder was arrested, and it was well known that Christians were heavily persecuted in Rome. To see this clearly a closer look at Philippians 1:12 is in order. This beautiful piece of scripture states, “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.” In captivity St. Paul becomes an evangelist to those in prison. He turns his prison cell into a chapel.
Paul saw being in prison as having a captive audience, and as a result he added members to the kingdom of God. This is something that we can incorporate into our own lives. When we go through trials do we see it as an exercise to increase our faith, or as an obstacle to our faith? When we go through various trials the Lord may be preparing us for events later on.
A Time of Preparation
It may be a way to better minister to a group, our families, or even our churches. Just as the suffering of Paul did not hinder his ministry, we must not let it hinder ours. He kept a positive attitude and accepted it as an honor to suffer on behalf of Christ. This is echoed in Philippians 1:13 where Paul writes, “As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.”
No matter where we are or what we are going through there is someone who needs the gospel. How we handle our suffering may be the witness needed for someone to come to Christ. What a blessing it would be to be going through a hard time, but at the end of it your words and actions led someone to Christ? May we echo the words of St. Paul in Philippians 1:18, “What difference does it make, as long in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is being proclaimed? And in that I rejoice.”
We Can Trust God
We cannot always trace the hand of God, but we can always trust the heart of God. His heart is devoted to working all things together for good for his people. We must be like Paul and focus on the end that Christ has in store for us. The enemy will try to discourage us with different trials, but we must proclaim Christ and rejoice that the gospel is being proclaimed in spite of what we are going through.
No matter what is going on in our lives, if we say we are Christians, then people are watching us. They are watching how we react, and how we live. When times get tough then talk is cheap. It is our actions that matter. Let us be like Paul and proclaim the Christ in every situation.