Developing an attitude of gratitude #2: show us how it’s done

‘God works in mysterious ways.’

Not something you want to hear when you’re really going through it.

‘All things work together for good.’

Really? It certainly doesn’t feel like it right now!

‘Everything happens for a reason.’

Enough! Stop with the platitudes!

When we’re struggling and overwhelmed and in pain and grieving, we can’t begin to contemplate that this could be part of some divine plan. We wouldn’t wish this level of adversity on anyone. And yet maybe at some point in the future, we will be able to look back and acknowledge the ways in which this dark time has changed us for the better, opened up new possibilities, revealed fresh hope and compassion.


Today’s section of Paul’s letter to the Philippians is entitled Paul’s Chains Advance the Gospel. Paul gets it. When he takes a step back from the suffering and isolation and inconvenience he is experiencing, he can see how that experience has been used for good.

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

How Paul has handled his situation has been an inspiration and encouragement to those around him. God has not removed the tough stuff, but He has worked in Paul in the tough stuff to show those around him how to  live in the confidence of Christ, whatever situation you find yourself in. There are people out there taking advantage of Paul’s captivity ‘stirring up trouble for me while I am in chains.’ But Paul is not bitter, He holds loosely to his reputation. All that matters to him is that people are hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.  Philippians 1:18

We could learn a lesson from Paul here. Instead of taking offence, we could celebrate what others are doing. Instead of resenting it when someone treads on our toes, we could make room for them to work with us. We’re all on the same team.

All Paul is hoping for is that he will have sufficient courage to face whatever he has to face – life or death – in the best way possible. In the way that brings glory to God and exalts Christ.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

He’s ready to die and be with Christ and yet if He’s called to stay and continue God’s work here on earth, then he’ll embrace that calling too.

Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me. Philippians 1:25-26

Paul has an important role to play in his life. And so do we. As Paul is an example to those around him, so are we. People should be able to see God at work in our lives. We should be role models of how it looks to live in this world at this time as followers of Christ. Whatever we are going through. However tough life is.

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