Why We Can Embrace Our Difficulties

The words “joy” or “rejoice” appear 15 times in the short book of Philippians. But when the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the believers at Philippi, he was sitting in a prison…not exactly happy circumstances. During Paul’s imprisonment, he was unable to proclaim Christ in the synagogues as he usually did; he was – by all appearances – left on the sidelines. However, as Paul himself identified, his persecution caused others to take up the mantle of proclaiming the gospel. And in this Paul finds joy.

This would be a life-lesson in and of itself. But Paul’s situation gets even worse. Some people were preaching Christ out of competition, trying to rival the chosen Apostle. And yet Paul still found – even chose – to rejoice. Why? Because all that mattered to him was that Jesus was proclaimed. And since God’s glory was Paul’s whole motivation, it didn’t matter the role he played.

How do you respond to difficulties that leave you feeling like you’ve been left on the sidelines? Like you’ve been forgotten? In those moments, what will be your motivation? Will you live for God’s glory, even when His sovereign direction of your life doesn’t make sense?

Like Paul, you can view your circumstances with joy, not because of your situation, but because of your confidence that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it right up until the day of Christ’s return (Phil 1:6). As you read Philippians 1:12-19, ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and to enable you to submit to His sovereign wisdom and care, no matter what difficulties you’re walking through today.  


Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has actually resulted in the advancement of the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is for Christ.
Most of the brothers in the Lord have gained confidence from my imprisonment and dare even more to speak the message fearlessly. Some, to be sure, preach Christ out of envy and strife, but others out of good will. These do so out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely, seeking to cause me trouble in my imprisonment.
What does it matter?
Just that in every way, whether out of false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed. And in this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will rejoice because I know this will lead to my deliverance through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ. My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
~Philippians 1:12-19