Paul was writing from prison when he said, Now I want you to know, brothers, that what happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. (Phil. 1:12 NIV) He explained that because of his imprisonment the palace guard and others realized he was there only because he was a Christian. They respected Paul. And because of the jail sentence, the Word of God was brought to people who would normally have been outside his sphere of influence.
Furthermore, Because of my chains most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God. . . . (v. 14a) Those dependent upon Paul for spiritual leadership were forced to step out on their own.
So although prison continued as an uncomfortable reality, Paul could write to the Philipians, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. (v. 18b)
Imagine. He rejoiced. He knew God could take aspects of life which are difficult—perhaps even devastating—and use them for good.
Originally published October 7, 1983.
Picture: Pansies, West Fargo, 2009. Photo by Solveig.