1:12 “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,”
Philippians 1:12 (NASB)
A Major League baseball player avoided a significant injury for most of his career. Then a severe knee injury led to season-ending surgery.
After a few weeks of monotonous physical therapy in the trainer’s room, he admitted, "I discovered a segment of the team going through a whole different kind of life in rehab. It has changed my ministry on the team.”
This athlete entered rehab thinking he was facing a career setback. He not only came out with a stronger knee, he came out with better sight. It expanded his impact on his teammates.
There are no "throw-away" circumstances in God’s economy. The apostle Paul was a Type-A, hard-charging, relentless leader who was yanked from the frontlines of ministry and confined to a prison. At one time free to travel from city to city throughout Asia Minor, he found himself chained to guards every day.
You would expect Paul’s circumstances to stifle his ministry. Instead, it gave him a captive audience. His guards would take what they heard about Christ into the ranks of the Roman imperial guards numbering about 9,000. Over time, these guards would be dispersed across the Roman empire, spreading the message even further.
Life just looks a lot different through God's eyes than our eyes. We are looking for ease, success or reputation. God is in the process of shaping believers into the image of His Son.
When you read Paul's letter to the Philippians, it is obvious that he is not ruled by frustration, impatience, anger, despair or anxiety. Paul understood that his circumstances could not limit a sovereign and omnipotent God.
The Roman authorities probably assumed they could shut down the religious debate that Paul stirred up in the cities. Instead, those who followed Christ became bolder in their preaching because of Paul’s imprisonment.
Sometimes our circumstances change our lives. Sometimes our circumstances change others’ lives.