Don’t Focus on Overcoming

Rebecca Van Noord

Judges 2:11–3:31; Philippians 1:12–18; Psalm 63–64

When I go through difficult circumstances, I want the end. I’m so focused on escape and overcoming that I barely think about what God might be teaching me through that experience. And I’m certainly not thinking about how He might be using me to witness to others.

Paul was on a completely different wavelength. In his letter to the church at Philippi, he sets his Roman imprisonment in context: “Now I want you to know, brothers, that my circumstances have happened instead for the progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in Christ has become known in the whole praetorium and to all the rest” (Phil 1:12–13).

Paul wasn’t just enduring or anticipating the end of his imprisonment. He was using his experience to be a witness for Christ. His captors must have wondered: what makes a person willing to suffer like this? What makes his message worth imprisonment?

Paul’s circumstances didn’t merely create waves with those he was testifying to. Other believers were emboldened by Paul’s endurance and preached the gospel without fear (Phil 1:14).

It’s not natural to be filled with joy in the midst of difficult times. It’s not normal to have a sense of purpose when everything appears to be going wrong. We don’t expect much from ourselves or others during these times, but God wants to refine us and use us. He’s giving us a chance to display the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding”—as a testimony to Christ’s redemptive work (Phil 4:7). Are you responding?

How can you use your difficult circumstances to point others toward Christ?

This article was originally posted in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.