“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,”
We now turn from Paul’s prayer for the Philippians to Paul’s attitude about being jailed (Philippians 1:12-24). His attitude is connected closely with how he viewed God’s sovereign hand on his situation.
The Philippian church was deeply concerned about Paul. They loved him. Under God, they owed their salvation to him. When Paul left Philippi for the last time, they lost track of him. Paul had gone back to Jerusalem. He was arrested and spent two years in jail in Caesarea. He was shipped to Rome and imprisoned there where, finally, the Philippians found him.
In this section, Paul was assuring the Philippian church. He was alleviating their fears to calm their concern for him.
“But I want you to know”
Invariably the very thing God wants us to know is the thing about which we are most ignorant. Here Paul put it in the positive: “I want you to know.” Hebrews 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God . . .” That is a difficult concept to grasp for non-Christians. They can grasp things on a finite scale: “By brains we understand,”; “by education we understand,”; “by intuition we understand.” The Christian, however, comprehends that faith is crucial to understanding divine things. Especially when coming to grips with the adversity we face, faith is foundational to coping with the pain.
“that the things which happened to me”
Paul was in danger of death and this put significant pressure on his confidence in God’s plan for his life. Very shortly after that, he knew, he might be dead. Yet, he made a precise appraisal of his situation from God’s viewpoint.
In the New King James Version, the words “which happened” are in italics, meaning that these words are not in the original text. Nothing just happened to Paul. Nothing just happens to us. There are no “rotten breaks” or “bad luck” for the Christian. Everything that comes into the life of the child of God comes by divine design. God divinely orders our lives. Good health, poor health, prosperity, poverty; all of these God mixes into our lives with an exact blueprint in His mind. All of the specifications are in God’s plan for your life.
There is no accident, no luck, no coincidence with the believer. Paul left Philippi the last time in Acts 20. In Acts 28, he was in prison in Rome, where he wrote the book of Philippians. These are the “things which happened to me.” Some mighty ugly things happened to him. He also earlier lay in prison in Caesarea without a fair trial. During that time, he could not do his missionary work freely. From a human viewpoint, it appeared that his time there was wasted. In Rome, he was again in jail. God had a definite plan in all this, as we will see in the ensuing verses.
God is sovereignly in control of everything that happens to us.
God is sovereignly in control of everything that happens to us. God wants us to “know” this principle for sure.
Do you “know” that God’s hand is sovereignly working in your life? Do you believe that God has a divine design behind every situation, event, blessing, and burden you face?