Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.
(Philippians 1:12 NIV)
God has always known the full story.
In January, I challenged myself to read the full Bible, cover to cover, book to book, over the course of the year for the first time in my life.
Trust me, it hasn’t been easy to be consistent! A few short weeks later, I started a new job. My day-to-day life drastically changed, becoming busier than ever, and I’ve rarely had time for myself.
But little did I know, just as my world had changed, the rest of the world would soon change. The coronavirus outbreak arrived. A storm that no one anticipated. Many plans have been cancelled. Fear and worry emerged. Sickness. Unemployment. An unknown future for many, and for others, perhaps just an inconvenience that they’re waiting to be over.
Either way, for the first time — in my limited perspective — I have seen the world stop.
Or, at least, being forced to do so.
Now, there’s something that has struck me in the past months of reading through the Bible that I can’t ignore.
No matter what has happened in this world, God has always had a plan and a purpose.
Over 300 prophecies in the Bible have already been fulfilled.
We see God’s love and plan of salvation from the Old Testament to the New Testament. We see God speaking to Abraham, Moses, and many prophets from the very beginning of the Word. We see Jesus’ miraculous birth and resurrection. We see God using men and women to reach the nations even in adversity and persecution.
Right now, I think of Paul writing to the church of Philippi in the book of Philippians:
“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel” (Philipians 1:12 NIV).
Paul’s circumstances are such incredible examples of a life interrupted.
First devoted to persecuting early Christians, Paul (then Saul) was interrupted on the road to Damascus when the Lord appeared and spoke to him: “Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’” (Acts 9:3-5).
Through that interruption, Paul made the decision to follow Jesus.
After devoting his life to the sharing of the gospel, Paul faced numerous persecutions, which was expected in a world that hated the news of Christ (John 15:18). In the beginning of Philippians, Paul encourages the church, aware of their sufferings, and expresses his love for them. Here’s what’s even more fascinating:
Paul encourages them in the midst of his own suffering.
At this time, Paul is imprisoned, his enemies wanting him to be put to death, and he acknowledges that his difficulties have actually helped in spreading the gospel! As he writes, everyone around him knew the reason behind his imprisonment: Christ.
“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” (Philippians 1:13-14 NIV).
What a perspective! Paul, despite his hardships, saw a crucial thing: Opportunity is born out of adversity.
Paul became known for Christ alone. He wasn’t simply known as Paul, another man suffering behind bars. He became known as the man who was behind bars because he was proclaiming the gospel — because he wanted others to be saved and set free from sin.
What Paul set out to do was being accomplished. He was answering God’s call on His life. He was leading others to their Creator. And that’s what made his current circumstances, his life interruption, an actual miracle.
Our current circumstances can be an actual miracle.
No matter what you are facing or what you’re thinking at this present time, God has always known the full story. He knew today would come.
God’s plan doesn’t stop. It’s not possible. Let that sink in.
It’s not possible for God’s plans to stop.
No matter the earthly interruption.
He still has overcome the world and has conquered sin and death through His Son Christ Jesus. And He’s still preparing a place in heaven for all who come to Him.
There is peace in this storm. I believe that God can and will do incredible things at this present time, but I ask this question:
What part are we playing in God’s plan?
I’d like to remind you that God doesn’t cause suffering. But He can use the unpredictable nature of a fallen world that causes suffering to move in a miraculous way.
Now’s the perfect time for us to rise up for Him and not be embarrassed or afraid.
May we be like Paul and not see our current circumstances as an interruption to our plans but an opportunity to see God’s plan. May we see our lives as available for God and allow rerouting to be a positive redirection. May we start asking God for the wisdom to know how to be a light in this world as our time here is passing by so quickly.
And so, I pray:
Lord, thank You, for being an all-knowing God. You’ve known the full story, from beginning to end.
The world may stop.
But it’s not possible for God’s plans to stop.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
(John 3:16-17 NKJV)
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