I love reading scripture. The Bible is always helpful and inspirational. When I read it, I know God in ways that transcend words on paper. It’s alive and powerful. Scripture reminds us that God is much stronger than we could ever be. Our limitations can free us when we look to the Lord to be our source of joy and strength.
Some days, God decides to show me an old truth in a new way. Or, do I just decide to listen? Regardless, it happened again last week. I was reading in Philippians while waiting on friends at a restaurant.
From his prison cell, The Apostle Paul wrote:
“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.” (Philippians 1:12-14, NASB)
An “arresting” moment “holds me up”
I’ve read that dozens of times. But, this day, I paused and wondered, “Why on earth would Paul’s imprisonment be a source of courage and inspiration for other believers? Why would they have less fear to preach? Wouldn’t it have the opposite effect?”
My friends came and went, still the questions rattled around. So, I prayed, searched keywords, and scoured related passages. I dropped into a couple commentaries.
David Guzik’s perspective was a blessed kick in the shins. He said, “God didn’t waste Paul’s time during the Roman imprisonment. God never wastes our time, though we may waste it by not sensing God’s purpose for our lives at the moment.” Thank you, Mr. Guzik.
During Paul’s imprisonments, he kept preaching, praying, and writing. Paul was captive, but he was not inactive. He was confined yet not defined! His CAPtivity didn’t determine his ACtivity! Can I get an amen?!
He also kept trusting and demonstrated a trust divorced from his circumstances. Paul didn’t trust God because all was well; he trusted God despite the pain God allowed to befall him. The believers took notice.
The example I see and the one I set
I see this every day through my wife. The last year of her life has been challenging, to say the least. Yet, she continues serving, praying, reading, cooking, encouraging, discipling, cleaning, and worshiping. For any women (or men!) with eyes to see, she’s putting on a clinic in godly perseverance amidst trying circumstances.
I wondered how I could do this better. If I want to set a godly example as a Father, how can I keep running the race amidst my own challenges? How can this truth help me grow as a husband and a leader of the father and son Bible study ministry I lead?
A few ideas came to mind:
- I can pray even when it appears God’s not answering
- Choosing to read His Word despite my busy schedule
- Listen for and lean into those impromptu teaching moments even when inconvenient
- I can do what God asks me to do even if it appears illogical
My challenges are nothing like Paul’s imprisonment. Maybe yours aren’t either. Which is all the more reason we should keep pressing on! Let’s not let our confinement limit our commitment.
As Matthew Henry points out, “A strange chemistry of Providence this – to extract so great a good as the enlargement of the gospel out of so great an evil as the confinement of the apostle”
To God be the glory!