The best of times! The worst of times!
In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens penned, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us...
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We want the good times, the good life and not the bad times. We want the smooth and not the rough. We don’t know what to do with sorrow and grief. When we have troubles, or problems, we think God has abandoned us. God has some good news for us today!
There are no guarantees in life. I don’t know what is coming next, but God does! This is GOOD NEWS! So, I need to learn how to view what is happening to me from God’s perspective and know that He will be with me and see me through it!
The Apostle Paul understood this well. He tells us in Philippians 1:12, “…that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” (ESV) That’s a Godly perspective! He goes on in verse 13 and tells us that the whole palace guard knows the reason that he is in chains is for Christ. When I take these verses to heart then I live for Christ’s sake! That’s real living!
Paul continues in verse 14 telling us that it is because of his chains that the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. Did you hear that? Paul said that his chains (his problems) have enabled others to be more boldly uninhibited to preach about Christ. What a viewpoint - my problems encourage others to preach Christ!
But Paul is still not finished. He tells us in Philippians 4:11-12 that he has learned to be content in whatever his circumstances: he has been in need, he has had plenty, he has been well fed, and he has been hungry. Then he pens the secret to being content. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13 NKJV) Paul learned this, so can we!
We may not be able to do anything about our circumstances, but we can act in such a way that reflects what we believe. Like Paul, we need to look for ways to demonstrate our faith, even in the “bad situations” we experience. Then, regardless of what happens, our faith will grow stronger.
People are watching us to see how we will respond. As we respond in Christ, people are encouraged by us, and some may even come to Christ. Look at Philippians 1:19. Paul says he knows that what has happened to him will turn out for his deliverance. Wow! If the problems I am facing now are for my deliverance, then these problems I have right now are the best for me! God wants us to learn from them and to live in them for Christ’s glory!