Summary: A person that is in the midst of adversity learns that the Lord is working in their life for good even when there are adverse circumstances being faced.
IN THE MIDST OF ADVERSITY
Proposition: A person that is in the midst of adversity learns that the Lord is working in their life for good even when there are adverse circumstances being faced.
Objective: My purpose is to challenge people to realize that the Lord is working out His purposes in the difficult times as well as the good times.
When adversity comes… Questions of every sort are asked. Emotions of every sort are expressed. Explanations are almost as plentiful as the amateur philosophers who are attempting to make sense of things. The “why” questions are the most troubling… People ask, “Why did this happen?” Others want to know, “Why didn’t God prevent this from happening?” Still others chime in, “Why does God allow people to or cause people to suffer?” We should bear in mind that… suffering, pain or distress, is one of the most persistent of all human problems. Even those who experience relatively minor suffering in their own lives are constantly confronted with the suffering of others—within their own families, among their acquaintances, or even in distant lands.
Suffering takes many forms: physical pain, frustrated hopes, depression, isolation, loneliness, grief, anxiety, spiritual crisis, and more. Such unpleasantness comes to good religious people, too. Certainly, the biblical peoples struggled with the presence of suffering in their lives. Just like people today, they sought ways to understand it and cope with it that could include their belief in both God’s power and God’s goodness.
We learn that not only was PAUL "making good out of ill," but GOD is able to "make good out of ill!”
What is our attitude towards problems of life? Is it gloom and doom?
What if Paul had written: “Here I am in prison, a defeated man. After I have given my life for the cause of Christ, look what it has brought me. Those that I thought was my friends who should care about me are taking advantage of the situation and using this as an occasion to further themselves. You ought to see the conditions here as well as the bonds and the suffering I endure. It looks like I could be executed for my faith. I see little or no hope of release. Things as so bad that not even God can help me now.”
Paul gives an interpretation of the events since he had left Philippi. He is more concerned about the Lord’s work than himself. He is in prison and is soon to face trial. He includes a description of his condition and revelation of his thoughts during his imprisonment. He was waiting in prison to be tried by Nero. However, he gave no indication of defeat. His body was bound; his spirit was free. Here is an example of true Christian service. His friends are worried about him because they know all to well that death may be Rome’s judgment against him. But Paul has risen above any anxiety about death and his prison confinement and suffering. The driving passion of his life made everything else, even imprisonment and possible death, seem insignificant. What was that passion? There it is in verse 12. ‘I am made confident in the Lord because of my imprisonment and am much more bold to speak the word without fear.’ ‘So, what then matters - only this – that in every way, whether by pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed.’ Paul knew something that you and I need to know, and in this whole section, especially in that 18th verse, Paul laid down, perhaps inadvertently, some great truths. We can proclaim the gospel anywhere. We are to proclaim the gospel every-where. When the gospel is proclaimed, the Spirit guarantees the harvest. Let’s examine how God is working in our lives as we serve Him. For as Christians, we are proclaimers of the gospel.
I. OBSERVATION: GOD ALLOWS THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO US--Adversity (vvs. 12-14) “The things which happened to me”-- From his own experiences Paul wanted the believers at Philippi to learn an important truth: there are no accidents with God. Instead of Paul’s ministry being curtailed because of his bondage, it was being advanced. Paul was all about the progress of the gospel. So with Jesus setting our priorities through Paul’s ministry, Jesus does not exhaust our way of doing it in Paul’s life and ministry alone.
1. The information (v. 12a) “I want you to know, brethren”-- The Philippians probably had feared that his imprisonment would hinder the spread of the Gospel; he therefore removes this fear. Since the church at Philippi had heard of the apostle’s troubles, he was very desirous that they should have a true and right understanding of them, and especially of the use they had been in his ministry. He wants to encourage the Christians to keep on keeping on in serving the Lord.