None of us like to be in a bad situation. None of us like to be in any sort of circumstance that keeps us from doing what we want to be doing. That’s human nature. And we especially don’t want to be in that situation when we’ve done nothing wrong to deserve it. That’s just not fair. But in order to serve God, we may find ourselves in bad situations because of our faith. And if we are in that situation because of our faith, then we’ve done nothing wrong to be facing the circumstances we find ourselves in. We can claim it’s not fair all we want. But if 10 of the 11 apostles (excluding Judas Iscariot) met their death due to persecution for their faith and the last (John) was exiled for his, we have to accept that sometimes we are allowed to go into a bad situation for the furthering of God’s glory. This is one of the reasons I have such an issue with those who take God’s Word and tell you that if you believe everything is going to be all right. In fact, it’ll be even better than it is right now. That’s simply not true in too many circumstances. Case in point:
Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak without fear. – Philippians 1:12-14, NASB
Paul was in prison because of his faith. This certainly was a bad situation. And it certainly didn’t match the “If you believe, things will be better than ever,” message that some modern preachers preach. But Paul saw the purpose of his imprisonment quite clearly. He saw that through it the Gospel was spreading more. He talked about how his faith had spread through the whole praetorian guard and to others. In fact, it was the cause of boldness in some believers to speak out in faith. In other words, Paul’s imprisonment, and his attitude in the face of it, was spurring on the spread of the Gospel. This bad situation for Paul was working out for God’s glory. Now Paul goes on in verses 15-17 to indicate that some who were talking weren’t preaching Christ from pure motives. However, Paul’s view of the whole situation is reflected in these words:
What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. – Philippians 1:18-20, NASB
Paul rejoiced in his condition because the message of the Cross was being proclaimed. And in the entire situation Paul wasn’t looking for a way out. It was more important to him that he would not be put to shame by stopping his exaltation of Christ to any who would listen. Life or death didn’t matter. Only the message of the Cross did. And Paul saw that his situation gave God glory. That was good enough for him. And that’s the attitude we should have, too. If we are in a bad (or even not so great situation) and it’s not because we’ve done anything wrong, we need to look at it as an opportunity to rejoice. Paul saw the situation as an opportunity to spread the Gospel to a new audience, the praetorian guard. We must look at those bad circumstances as an opportunity to share our faith, too. And it doesn’t always have to be with words. It could be through attitude and deed. But certainly when we find ourselves in these kinds of circumstances, let us look at it the way Paul did: a time for God to be glorified. And that hopefully will be good enough for us, too.