“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually 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.And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”
What things have happened to you? What struggles have you experienced? What has made you think that you have been side-lined?
In these verses, Paul gives us a new mindset, a new way of thinking about our trials and disappointments. He says it so clearly: “What has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.” Can you say that of the things that have happened to you?
Paul has been tied to a guard, day and night. His freedom has been taken, He has been accused of causing trouble, yet he sees God’s hand at work in his circumstances. His position, his chains, are seen by the whole palace guard. As they watch and listen to him, they see the chains in a whole new way. Instead of being chained because of his behavior, he chooses to see himself as wearing the chains as a badge of honor. He is wearing them for Jesus himself.
The outcome? Most of the believers who know Paul have become more confident, more willing to proclaim the good news to others. Paul’s example has encouraged them to hold fast, to be bold and to go forth without fear. Even the guards are becoming believers.
What a testimony to Paul’s faith and trust in God to complete the work in him. His desire is that all who believe will have this mindset.
So, how about you? Can you see God’s hand at work in your dark times? Can you see believers being strengthened by your attitude in tough circumstances?
Lift up your head and look to the Lord, for he is ready to do mighty things through you. Feeling down? Look up! Feeling sad? Put on a garment of praise! Feeling side-lined? Don’t believe it. God is working in and through you for the furtherance of his gospel.
Don’t think of yourself as stuck with your pain, heartache, struggles. Instead, take those things as “chains for Christ.” Wear them with grace and let the light of Jesus shine through you.
As it says in Hebrews 12, “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” God is not finished with you. Get up and do what you can where you are.