Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. (Philippians 1:19)
2004 was a disappointing year for me. I spent countless hours (and $1,500 I could ill afford) applying to graduate schools, only to be rejected. I wondered what good could come from such failure. Years later, it’s clear to me that God used those circumstances to answer prayers I didn’t even know I had. If I hadn’t been rejected by Notre Dame, I wouldn’t have met my husband in California.
Many of us have had personal disappointments that we later recognize were acts of grace. But in the midst of difficult circumstances, it feels impossible that God could transform something bad into something good.
Paul is in prison; his enemies are making his life even harder. Yet Paul is able to rejoice because he knows that a sovereign God is using these circumstances to spread the gospel. Paul also trusts that God will use those same circumstances to deliver him.
What gives Paul such confidence? Jesus Christ. On the cross, Jesus looked like a total failure. Yet what seemed like utter defeat was the means by which God purchased our redemption. If God can redeem even the cross, what can keep him from redeeming the circumstances of your life?
God is working through your circumstances to accomplish something greater than you can imagine. Give thanks!
Reflect: Recall a time when God transformed your failure or disappointment into something good.
Phillipians 1:1-20 1Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: 2grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Heart of the Apostle
3I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 8For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. 9And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
12But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 14and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
18What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. 19For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.