The Tragedy becomes a Triumph
When Adversity Becomes a Triumph
“Most of the brethren trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.”
No one is exempt from the trials of life. Sometimes, we think our faith should protect us from adversity, only to become discouraged and disillusioned when adversity comes. We begin to question God and his goodness and plan for us.
Paul was well acquainted with adversity. He had experienced the depth of trials. In 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, he describes the struggles he had faced, “We were afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing, persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body of dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also might be manifested in our body.” How could Paul maintain his spiritual perspective in the face of his continual persecution and hardships? In Philippians 1:12-14 Paul gives us the answer.
Unlike many who look at a hindrance to our ministry and reason to question God’s plan, Paul looked beyond his circumstances and viewed his life from the perspective of eternity. Paul recognized that his trials were part of God’s plan to further the gospel through him. Rather than the trials hindered his ministry, he saw them as the springboard by which he effectively ministered to others. First, his imprisonment allowed him to share his faith with the guards. He did not see himself imprisoned; he saw his guards as his captivated audience. They had no choice but to be with Paul, so Paul saw it as an opportunity to share the Gospel. Our circumstances never hinder the gospel; instead, our circumstances give us opportunities to share the gospel with more people. Paul did not see himself as a prisoner of the Romans, rather he saw himself as a prisoner of Christ. The idea of verse 13 is that Paul saw his impressionment as part of his identity in Christ. It allowed Paul to demonstrate to the palace guards that he was not in chains because of the power of Rome but because of the power of God at work in him.
Second, he recognized that his imprisonment provided boldness for others to share their faith without fear. Because of his example, others were more confident to share the gospel. When the believers saw Paul use his adverse circumstances as an opportunity to share the gospel, they were more emboldened likewise to share the gospel.
This is central to our perspective of suffering. God is in control of our lives and allows adversity to come, not because he is punishing us or being cruel, but to provide opportunities for us to manifest our faith to others. Faith is not revealed until it is put to the test. When people see our confident trust in God amid adversity, it gives testimony to the reality of our faith. This is why the church often grows the most when facing persecution. Instead of persecution hindering the gospel, it gives power to the gospel. When God allows us to face adversity, it is not to impede our ministry but to prepare and equip us for more significant ministry opportunities. When you are going through trials, instead of being in despair, recognize that God will use these circumstances to do even greater things through us. Just as the cross is the basis for the gospel, so also our suffering is the basis for the gospel's advancement. Suffering is the spotlight that God uses to show the reality of faith to the world that is without hope. When encountering adversity, instead of asking why, ask how. How is God using these circumstances to provide opportunities for us to advance his kingdom? When facing adversity, God has not abandoned us; instead, he is preparing us for greater ministry.