Loved by a Faithful God
“I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…”
Peer through the small window in the wall of the Roman jail. See the man in chains? The aging fellow with the stooped shoulders and hawkish nose? That’s Paul, the imprisoned apostle. His chains never come off. The guards never leave. And he’s probably wondering if he’ll ever get out. . . .
By the time we find Paul in his cell, he has been beaten, lied about, storm tossed, rejected, and neglected.
Ah, but at least he has the church. At least he can take comfort in the thought of the unified Roman congregation he helped strengthen, right? Hardly. The Roman church is in trouble. . . . Power-hungry preachers occupy the parsonage. You expect such antics out of nonbelievers, but Christians preaching for personal gain? Paul is facing Prozac-level problems. . . .
And who knows what Emperor Nero will do? He feeds disciples to the Colosseum lions for lunch. Does Paul have any guarantee the same won’t happen to him? . . . Paul is not naive. He knows the only thing between him and death is a nod from moody Nero.
Paul has every reason to be stressed out. . . .
But he isn’t. Rather than count the bricks of his prison, he plants a garden within it. He itemizes, not the mistreatments of people, but the faithfulness of God.
“I want you to know, brethren” (Phil. 1:12) “that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel” (1:12 NIV). He may appear to be bumped off track, but he is actually right on target. Why? One reason. Christ is preached. The mission is being accomplished.
— Every Day Deserves a Chance
Father, earthly stress and struggles remind us of your faithfulness. Help us, Lord, to serve you without grumbling. May we, like the apostle Paul, choose to plant a garden in the bricks of our “prison.” Help plant our thoughts firmly on your faithfulness. All hope comes from you, amen.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7
Let your heart therefore be loyal to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as at this day.
1 Kings 8:61
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
From Lived Loved: Experiencing God’s Presence in Every Day Life
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2011) Max Lucado