Read: 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.
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 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.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice… Philippians 1:12-18 (NIV)
Reflect: My friends and family have often referred to me as an optimist. I try my best to stay positive even in the most challenging of times. Perhaps this comes from previously having run my own wedding planning business and having to remain calm under pressure and solve problems quickly, or it could be because I am a bit persistent. But I do fall off the wagon at times and cannot see the bright side when I begin to feel overwhelmed.
When I take the time to reflect upon those moments, I realize that those are the moments that I did not put God first. I was insistent on something working the way I wanted it to work, and not thinking about how the challenge I was facing was possibly a way for me to grow closer to God or a way to advance his Kingdom. I now practice more self-reflection and obedience. I find that when I look to God first in challenging times, this brings me comfort and allows me to remain positive and find happiness through the storm. Staying connected to God in tough circumstances also allows me, like Paul did in jail, to use tough times to honor God with my life and point others toward him as well.
React: Do you have a difficult time finding joy in the face of adversity? Do you take the time to pray and ask God to help you be obedient and trust in Him?
Pray: Lord, help us to find joy in difficult times and to remember that our struggles may be your way of advancing your Kingdom.