Pondering Providence

There will always be debate about the emotions that attend some Bible statements. What tone of voice, volume or inflection was used? What facial features or body language attended the oral message? Do you ever wonder how the Sermon on the Mount would have impacted you had you been there to hear Jesus in person? Sometimes there are indicators in the context, sometimes there are none; so, we can only draw our faith from what is revealed.

One such curious statement is made by Paul to the Philippians where, from prison, he writes: “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel….” (1:12). It would appear from the context that a supposed negative event in Paul’s life might have suppressed the Word of God but actually served as a megaphone for broadcasting the wonderful salvation in Christ Jesus. Even some of Caesar’s household had been converted to Christ (4:22). Was Paul surprised at this turn of events? Were the Philippian Christians? Should we be?

It is in this epistle that Paul would say “Be anxious for nothing” (4:6) and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (4:13). Oddly enough his incarceration, which would otherwise have appeared to be a monumental step backward both personally and professionally, was the catalyst for the furtherance of the Gospel and a source of encouragement to Christians then and even to this day. Go figure!

Too many times, we look at events in our lives with myopic discontent, bemoaning the hardships or inconveniences, without realizing that our self-centeredness does not take into account the providence of God. If we could but see the big picture, perhaps the little inconveniences of this life would pale by comparison to the benefits of their occurrence (3:8).

Therefore, no matter what the condition in which you find yourself, whether in the bowels of a prison cell or at the top of your game, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (4:4). God is in control; all is well.

JDS