Focal passage: Philippians 1:12-26
If we’re truly honest with ourselves, no one craves adversity. We are much more likely to choose comfort when given the option. No matter how great the offer is, not much can convince us to knowingly walk into danger, grief or hardship.
But in the upside-down kingdom of God, even adversity can lead to joy. When our discomfort means that God is glorified and that the gospel is preached, then we can have joy because God is still at work. We can have joy because that same gospel gives us the promise of eternal life.
Paul teaches this truth to the Philippian church. At the time, he was in prison for preaching the gospel. There were some who were preaching the gospel with ulterior motives. At the same time, Paul was being shamed for his imprisonment. He stated that he found joy in the face of these adversities just knowing that the gospel was being preached at all.
Paul was aware of the dire situation he was in; he knew he could be killed for preaching the gospel. Yet, he understood how God could work in both his living and dying. If he lived and suffered for the cause of Christ, he could continue to make disciples. On the other hand, if he were to die, he would be with Christ. Knowing that God’s hand is at work in both our living and dying should bring us joy.
Following Jesus is not a ticket to an easy life with no trials. This is why Jesus said to count the cost of following him (Luke 14:28-33). Sometimes as believers, we will even face adversity because of our faith. The very thing that gives us hope and peace can also bring strife into our lives. Yet, we do not need to despair in this. Though we cannot always make sense of the trials we face, we can have joy even so.