“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Philippians 1:12-14).
Have you ever thought that your bad experiences or suffering may advance the Gospel so that other might come to know Jesus? This isn’t how we normally perceive unpleasant experiences, is it? Yet, the scripture seems to indicate that suffering for Christ may be a great way to introduce people to the Lord.
Take a look at what Paul says in this passage. He notes that his imprisonment was not only a witness, but it was a witness to the imperial guard. As a captive, Paul, at times, was chained to his guard and thus the captive had a captive audience. Paul saw his suffering as opportunity to help others come to know about Jesus.
How do you perceive your suffering?
Some philosophies, like Buddhism, perceive suffering as bad, as without greater purpose. The Buddhist wants to unchain from his suffering and escape it. But Jesus’ attitude was different. He embraced his suffering for the salvation of the world. Paul felt the same way. He saw suffering as an opportunity to share Christ, because it is when we suffer that people look to see how we will respond. As Christians, we should respond with the attitude of Christ.
“With full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:20-21).
Think about the times in your life you have suffered. How did you respond to God in your suffering? What can you do to fix in your mind that opportunities may arise the next time you suffer?