Fridays in Philippians – Finding Meaning in Suffering

Thanks for joining me for our Fridays in Philippians Devotion.  Today we’re finishing up our excavation of Chapter 1 and verses 12-14:

Philippians 1:12–14: 12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

As we saw in our devotion last Friday, Paul was in a very difficult situation, yet his Philippiansadverse circumstances did not rob him of his joy or affect his positive outlook. He was in prison while writing the Book of Philippians. He had been falsely accused and mistreated. Even some, who claimed to be Christians, were taking advantage of his imprisonment. They saw Paul’s incarceration as an opportunity to advance their own personal agenda. But even in the middle of his troubles, Paul maintained an incredible attitude.

Paul said, listen, brothers, don’t pity me. Don’t feel sorry for me. All that has happened to me has served to advance the Gospel!  He was being mistreated, abused and unjustly accused; yet he was still able to focus on the good that was resulting from his imprisonment. In this terribly difficult time, he found the silver lining. He said, I may be in prison, but as a result of my bonds, the Gospel is being preached – and that is good!

When you can look at your difficult situation and find the silver lining, you are on the path to possessing joy in the middle of your adversity. As you focus your attention upon the ultimate purpose of God and ministry to others, you will find a deep source of joy that will sustain you through your trial!

We’re looking at three positive things that happened as a result of Paul’s imprisonment. We’re seeing how Paul did not focus on his personal discomfort but rather upon the ultimate purpose of God that was being fulfilled through his suffering – and that brought him joy in tribulation. Last week we started with the first on the list:

The Gospel was Being Advanced 

12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;

Paul said to the Philippians, as a result of my imprisonment, the Gospel is being advanced! People were hearing and obeying the Gospel as a result of Paul’s incarceration. For twophilippians years Paul was on house arrest under the close, watchful eyes of the Roman guards. What did those guards see? What did they hear? They heard and saw things that caused some of them to become Christians. They must have heard Paul praying! They surely overheard Paul preaching and teaching to those who came to visit him while on house arrest. I’m certain Paul even talked directly to those guards about his testimony and the power of Christ’s Gospel.

Now let’s continue on with the next positive things that happened as a result of Paul’s imprisonment:

Paul’s Imprisonment gave Courage to other Believers.

Notice what he said to the Philippians in verse 14:

14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.(KJV)

It was not only the guards that were watching Paul while on house arrest – the brethren were watching him as well! The believers in Rome and other places were taking note of how Paul was handling his difficult situation. Paul’s joy in adversity and attitude in his trial was giving boldness and confidence to the church! Paul’s positive attitude and boldness to share his faith even while imprisoned made a huge impact on the Christians who knew of his plight. Whether they were eyewitnesses of Paul while he was imprisoned or just hearing how he was fairing – the way Paul was handling his imprisonment caused other believers to wax bold and confident in sharing God’s Word.

Perhaps our greatest impact we make for the Gospel lies in how we handle adversity and tragedy.

Imagine if Paul had been downtrodden and negative. How might his impact have been different if he had played the victim? Would other believers have waxed bold if Paul had been fearful, discouraged or bitter? Of course not! The way he handled his adversity released a faith and boldness in others.

What lesson for us when we are in the fire! Does my life during adversity inspire or discourage others? Does it give boldness to others or make them want to quit? Remember, both unbelievers and believers are watching us in our adversity. Perhaps our greatest impact we make for the Gospel lies in how we handle adversity and tragedy. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:2, “Ye are our epistle….known and read of all men”

Paul Found Meaning in His Suffering

Life will lead us all through seasons of trials, difficulty, and perhaps even sufferingtragedy. But the sting of suffering is worst when we don’t understand why we are suffering. Paul found meaning in his suffering! He said, I’m imprisoned…I’m suffering…but there is a reason for it. Good things are resulting from my plight. My suffering is not in vain. When we find meaning in our adversity, our suffering is much easier to endure.

It was Paul’s positive attitude and willingness to continuing doing God’s Work while in the middle of his trial that gave meaning to his suffering. The reason for his suffering was revealed because of the right way he handled his adversity. If he had allowed himself to fall into discouragement and negativity, he likely would have missed the “Why?” If he had played the role of a victim and given up on doing God’s Work, he would have suffered for naught.

I realize that sometimes we will suffer and never understand why. And in those times we must trust in God and His sovereign will. But when I keep an attitude of faith and continue doing God’s work, even in my darkest trial, I will likely discover the silver lining in my suffering.

~Matthew Ball

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2 thoughts on “Fridays in Philippians – Finding Meaning in Suffering

  1. Thank you Pastor for that well timed message and truth. God is always in control and has great plans for each us even thru our difficult trials. Life will always hurl suffering our way but it is how we handle that suffering and use it as a testimony for God that makes the difference. Are we going to have our own pity party? Or stand upright before God and know in our hearts that He alone not this world knows was best for us and place our trust in His divine hands to lead us thru our valleys along the path of life. Praise God!!