What if everytime you turn around, no matter what happens, it ends up helping you? It seemed like it was one of those days. All the traffic lights were green. Even the cars in front of me were moving along at a good speed. My favorite song came on the radio in just enough time for me to hear the whole song before I arrived at my appointment. And then, when I did arrive, there was a parking spot right in front! It was one of the few times I actually considered buying a lottery ticket, since things were going my way that day!
But I’ve had other days when the exact opposite was happening. Nothing was going right! Yeah, I bet you’ve had days like that too!
But what if I told you both days serve the same purpose, if only you can see it!
Look at our Lesson today in Philippians 1:12-20:
Brethren, I want you to know that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the praetorian guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brethren have been made confident in the Lord because of my imprisonment, and are much more bold to speak the word of God without fear. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of partisanship, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I shall rejoice. For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope.
When St. Paul writes the Epistle of Philippians from a jail cell! So, when he writes “what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel” we start to begin seeing what St. Paul means by this. He declares that his current “situation” was actually a help to his mission of spreading the Gospel of Jesus in Rome! He even insists that his prison situation had actually emboldened others to preach with more fervor in the area.
He goes on to say that there were some that were preaching the Gospel as a way to support St. Paul and encourage him in his struggles in prison. But there were others who were stepping up and preaching the Gospel to actually take advantage of Paul’s imprisonment! And Paul goes on to say that he rejoices over both of these situations BECAUSE Paul’s deepest desire was that the Gospel was being proclaimed and that was happening!
So, what we can take from this amazing courage and faithful attitude of St. Paul? First, our circumstances are always an invitation to discover our perspective, our attitude? If we have the eternal perspective of our foundational purpose, our calling, our deepest devotion focused on Christ, no matter what happens, we can see God’s purpose in the good times and the bad times, and all the in between times. Next, we get an invitation by our circumstances to test our ability to be confident in our Faith. St. Paul realizes that his purpose was to defend the Gospel and his confidence was so complete and sure that it didn’t matter what the circumstances. He KNEW everything was going to be fine! Finally, even with all the challenges in Paul’s life, he assumed that the troubles were also going to give all his brothers a sisters around him an opportunity to exercise their faith in supporting Paul and praying for his release! Paul saw his troubles as a blessing because it served to invite all the believers to grow in their faith and to become more confident in their commitment to Christ!
Today, there are no circumstances happening in your life right now, no matter what those circumstances are, both positive and negative, that cannot reveal God’s plan, God’s purpose, and God’s Hand in your life right now! Every event invites you and me to look beyond our fears, our temporary worries and concerns, and see God’s wonderful purpose in your life to shape you and prepare you for your future and your eternity. This is the powerful joy of being Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. This Sunday night we have another Faith Encouraged LIVE program with my dear friend and scholar, Fr. Panayiotis Papageorgiou of Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Marietta, GA. We will be discussing and taking your questions and comments about “Knowing Islam – An Orthodox Perspective.” Listen Sunday night at 8PM on AncientFaith.com!