by: Timothy Vazquez
Philippians 1:12-14 (NLT) And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.
The Apostle Paul was in prison again. He had been in prison before. As a matter of fact, the City of Philippi was where earlier in their ministry together, Paul and Silas had been whipped with lashes, put in stocks and thrown in a dungeon cell. It was that prison in Philippi that was shaken to its very foundation, causing all the jail cell doors to open. God was setting his messengers free! They used the opportunity to preach the gospel and the jailer and his entire family were saved that day. But on this occasion when he was thrown in jail, there was no break-out of prison plan. What happened? Was the Apostle Paul not living right? Was God angry with him or did He forget about him? No, everything was going exactly according to God's plan and Paul knew it. That's why he could say to the Philippian Christians that what happened to him (being put in prison) was a good thing.
Some believers make the mistake of thinking that everything needs to go super-smoothly if you are in the will of God. But that's not the case and that's not what Jesus told us would happen. Jesus actually said the opposite. He said that we would face many trials and sorrows (John 26:33). But He also said that we shouldn't be fearful because He had overcome the world, which means that we will overcome as well. The trials and sorrows that we face can prove to be quite positive things because of the Lord Jesus. That's what Paul was talking about in the passage of scripture above. Even though he was in jail, he was not just putting up with it but was joyful and full of peace! He knew that he was in God's will and that the Lord was using what happened to do some awesome things. To start with, he had the opportunity of preaching the Word to the men who were guarding him and many of them became followers of Christ. Then because of the way that he was handling his situation, it gave courage to a lot of believers to spread the Gospel boldly. It actually motivated them to do more for the Kingdom of God. And if that wasn't enough, Paul wrote three powerful epistles from that very prison that have blessed an untold multitude of Christians over the ages. Paul's prison experience gave us the books of Philippians, Ephesians and Colossians.
The next time you face a trial of any kind, stop and remember that what seems bad to you at the moment, God can turn around and use for His glory. Nothing confuses God, nothing can thwart Him and He is never at a loss of what to do next. If we walk with Him and stay in His will, then even what many consider a bad thing can be used by God to accomplish many good things. He is an amazing God and you need to know that you are in His care at all times...especially when the circumstances get difficult. He exchanges the bad for the good in your life to bless you and to encourage many others.
Pastor Joey Vazquez