The Tabernacle Scroll
"Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel". (Philippians 1:12, NIV).
Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter to the Philippians; but his hardships did not alarm him. His goal was to preach the gospel, and he didn't question that goal just because he had been arrested. He made the most of the circumstances and proclaimed Christ to his captors. Instead of hindering the gospel, Paul's captivity had served to make it known (See verses 13 &14).
One of the traps that Christians fall into is assuming that when we determine to obey God completely it necessarily follows that life will go smoothly! So, when things appear to be going smoothly, we assume this proves that we're in God's will. But when we run into obstacles or difficulties we conclude that we (or the things we do) are out of God's will.
It is misleading to believe that obeying God means that everything will always go well in our lives. Being obedient to God means going on with Him even when things go wrong. The gospel has always been advanced through suffering servants. The true church has a testimony of the blood of its saints. It will continue to be so.
Suffering has an important part to play in our lives. The Bible is full of examples of those who suffered because of God's righteous rule in their lives. Jesus said of Paul: "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name's sake" (Acts 9:16). No serious Christian can contemplate an earthly life without suffering. However, it makes sense to examine why we may be suffering. Peter tells us "it is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good rather than for doing evil"(1 Pe. 3:17).
The difficulties and obstacles that we meet allow God an opportunity to show his power and his grace. God puts people alongside us (yes, even other Christians!) in order to perfect us, in much the same manner as pebbles in a river are gradually smoothed through constant rubbing against other rough ones. God doesn't remove difficulties; He uses them for our good and for his glory.
Be warned! If you entertain the misconception that Christianity is smooth sailing just remember that smooth seas can never make an expert sailor!
Are you struggling? Are you ridiculed because of your faith in Jesus? The psalmist says: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Ps. 23: 4,5). He doesn't take us out of our difficulties; he walks through them with us!
Let me encourage you to lean on Him (Prov. 3:5) all the more!
www.kerysso.org-Preach The Word with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues