“Brothers and sisters, I want you to know that the things that have happened to me have actually advanced the gospel.” (Philippians 1:12)
The Apostle Paul wrote these words to comfort the disciples in Philippi who were concerned for him, understanding that he was writing from prison. When life seems uncertain, it is, at times, hard to see the good of the situation. Jesus said something similar to Paul as he and his disciples were approaching Jerusalem for the Passover that would inaugurate his sacrificial work on the cross.
Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”
The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about. (Luke 18:31-34)
Jesus and Paul had a perspective that acknowledged the hand of God in the midst of difficult times. This acknowledgement allowed them to to see that the things they were experiencing had an effect beyond themselves. For Jesus, he saw the salvation that would come from his sacrifice. For Paul, he saw that Christ would be preached and people reached for the kingdom of God.
What is our perspective to be? Paul summarizes in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” As we enter Holy Week and approach our Community Festival and Easter, may our hearts be turned to the concerns of others and may we be available as bridges to the kingdom with word and deed that bring comfort and hope.
Grace and peace,