…what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.Philippians 1:12-13
I could never equate having a stroke (even with a grueling time of recovery) with being in prison. Those who have spent time behind bars on account of their faith in Jesus Christ truly identify with Paul. However, on discouraging days when my circumstances feel confining, there are words of encouragement in this passage for those of us who find ourselves in times of deep, unexpected, limiting struggle.
No matter where our sufferings bring us—for Paul it meant awaiting death in jail—God can use the most difficult situations as occasions to share the good news of salvation through Jesus. Our family has found occasions to share our faith and encourage others in their faith. Because of this, I can see my ongoing rehabilitation and even my setbacks as opportunities from God.
When we recognize challenging days as opportunities from God “to advance the gospel,” we are better able to (and feel free to) encourage others about Jesus. We see greater purpose in times of difficult suffering and know His purposes for us are truly good.
“My chains are gone/ I’ve been set free/ my God, my Savior has ransomed me/ and like a flood His mercy reigns/amazing grace.” (Chris Tomlin, 2006)