No, I’m not talking about the traditional ball and chain reference to marriage. Instead, let’s consider the chains of sin, fear, pride, persecution and temptations that seem to grip us at times. These things can take grip and feel as heavy as a literal ball chained or attached to our bodies or hearts. Have you ever felt imprisoned by your circumstances, fears or sins? I have been there and it can seem crippling at times. As I came across Philippians 1 this week, Paul’s words jumped off the page and straight in my heart.
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. Philippians 1:12-14
First, keep in mind this isn’t Paul’s first rodeo with persecution and pain. He endured a lot in Christ’s name. From stoning, beatings, floggings, and many Christ hating unsavory characters criss-crossed in and out of his adventures, Paul was like a Bible time super hero. However, after all that, instead of sitting in his prison cell rolling around in self-pity and despair, Paul picks up his pen and writes down a wonderful revelation. One that struck a deep cord in my heart this week.
I paraphrase – “It’s become clear I’m in chains for Christ! My pain and imprisonment are advancing the gospel. God is using this evil (these chains) for His glory and His story! My chains are giving others confidence to live out and share the gospel.”
Love that Paul! What an amazing heart for the Lord!!! These verses give me strength, increase my faith and offer me hope. Hope that the chains that bind me from time to time, God will use for His glory and if I’m willing. He can and will use my story and chains to increase the confidence and faith in others to dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. Doesn’t that just give you goose bumps!? God can take those chains and even before He breaks you free of them will use it for His glory and kingdom. With the right heart and God’s powere, we have the ability to ignite a fire in the hearts of others – even when things don’t feel or seem like they are going so well.
It isn’t always easy to remember this in tough, painful, heart wrenching, lost times in my life where I feel like God has left my side, but it’s true! He is ALWAYS there! He is in the chains, the sadness and the pain. He is in the joy, the celebration and the triumphs. He is there! Always there, by your side!