When “Bad Things” Happen — Philippians 1:12 & 19
Following Paul’s example, when what we or others consider a “bad thing” happens to us (and “bad things” do happen to Christians), we might consider asking ourselves these three questions (among others). These three questions come together in a way for you to think about and expand on how to live by faith in Jesus Christ at all times and in all situations.
1. Ask yourself, :"How might God use this "bad or difficult" experience to advance the gospel (the good news about Jesus Christ)?" Then pray for God to use the experience and you to advance the gospel. Ask God what you can do to advance the gospel in the situation.
2. Ask yourself, "How can I encourage others to pray for God to use this experience and me to advance the gospel?" The Holy Spirit being your guide, look for opportunities for you and others to advance the gospel in and through the experience. For example, when Paul thought about being chained to a guard with other prisoners around him, he encouraged his fellow Christians to not consider it a “bad thing:” rather, he wanted them to look at it as a God-given opportunity for him to sing praises to God and preach the gospel to a captive audience.
3. Ask yourself, "What are some of the other things I should ask God about in this situation?" Pray for God to give you and others the courage and wisdom to say and do what would advance the gospel. Pray for the Spirit of Jesus Christ to deliver you and any others from the “bad thing.” Though Paul was able to proclaim Christ in prison and advance the gospel there, Paul also knew that after he had preached the gospel in prison that he needed to be released from prison so he could preach to others in other places. In Philippians 1:19, Paul wrote, "for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance." We can look ahead and think about our future service in the cause of Christ, and we can pray for God to deliver us and show us what He wants us to do next after He delivers us. Because we love God in Christ supremely, our primary goal is promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ and glorifying God as we do so wherever we find ourselves in every situation.
Finally, to encourage yourself as a Christian in difficult times, remember some of the times God has brought good out of some of the memorable "bad things" that have happened to you; then, praise and thank God for His faithfulness to you. Remember what Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome. In Romans 8:28, 29, we read: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." As Christians, God will work in us and with us so all of the "bad things" that happen to us will further conform us to the image of His Son.
What are some things you do and say or have learned from others that they do and say when “bad things” happen? Surely among all of us on the Forum there are other Bible teachings and ideas that can help all of us that can be shared here. And please pray with me that the International Bible Lesson Commentary and Forum will further advance the gospel.
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