"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." Philippians 1:12-14
Paul was a man who understood suffering. At one time Paul, or Saul as he was called, caused suffering for Christ followers, even approving of the death of Stephen (Acts 7 and 8). On his way to Damascus, Jesus appeared and changed Paul's life forever. Paul became a believer, and he immediately began preaching that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. Political and religious leaders who were hunting down Christ followers soon began hunting down Paul. However, Paul kept on moving and kept on preaching the gospel. He suffered beatings, imprisonment, and much more. When you read his letters in the New Testament, you will see that Paul faced many difficulties for the sake of preaching the gospel. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul even views his difficulties as opportunities. God continued to move in mighty ways despite the prisons, despite the barriers, and despite the evil intentions of others. Paul says, "What has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel." He goes on to say, "Most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear." Paul shows us that difficulties can produce opportunities. We can press on and move forward in difficult situations, and God can and will use it in powerful ways. We even have the ability to influence others to grow more confident in their faith in the Lord. As Paul said to the church there in Ephesians 5:16, I say to us: "Make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." May we press on and move forward. May be continue to preach the gospel. May we see our difficulties as opportunities...for God's glory. Amen.