I’ve been through a lot in my lifetime. I used to feel a little sorry for myself if I’m being honest. I can remember sad, pitiful, moments when I whined at God because “He must love everyone else more than me since life was so unfair”, blah blah blah. I’m ashamed to admit that, but it’s the truth. I’ve long since adjusted my attitude towards suffering, hardship, and trials. I can either allow the hardships of my life to break me, or I can allow them to build me. I choose the latter.
It’s been through some of the hardest times of my life, that I’ve found what it means to truly live. It’s in the suffering that I’ve learned to find true joy. It’s in the anxious moments, that I’ve learned what it means to have peace and to lean in and trust more than I thought possible. It’s in pain, I’ve learned empathy. It’s in rejection, I’ve learned love. For all of these things, I am truly, honestly, not just throwing out a cliché, grateful!
Paul learned this as well. Philippians 1:12 NLT “I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News” He was in prison when he wrote those words. Yet, he used even his chains to further the Gospel! Nothing is wasted.
We live in a culture, particularly in the church, where we rail against suffering. We don’t want it! We don’t believe it should happen to us despite the fact that Jesus said in John 16:33 NLT, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.“. We’ve created entire doctrines based on the avoidance of pain, sickness, and suffering. Ultimately, we want to control things. We feel if we were better, we’d get better things. If we are good enough, we will be blessed. We’ve missed the point. We ARE blessed but not because bad things don’t happen to us and around us. We are blessed because He has overcome the world! (also in John 16:33) We are blessed because in the worst moments, He is there to strengthen us, give us peace, and we will come through it stronger and better! Remember in Philippians 1:21, Paul says, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”
In the worst moments of my life, not only do I have the opportunity to grow, but I have an opportunity to shine. When nothing and no one can hold me back from doing what God called me to do, those around me get the benefit. They can not only see Christ strengthening me, but I’m able to love better…to show them the love of Christ better. Sometimes, it’s in the midst of the chains, that we can spread the most freedom. Like Paul said, “Everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the good news.“
Don’t waste your chains! Use them! Fight! Hold on tight and trust that nothing can stop you! Grow! Most importantly, learn to love deeply, trust without limits, and spread the love of God like you’ve never thought possible! You are a warrior! Don’t ever forget it.