Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

Read: Philippians 1:12-20

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. (v. 19)

Twenty years ago, I spent countless hours (and money I could ill afford) applying to graduate schools, only to be rejected. I wondered what good could come from such failure. Years later, it’s clear to me that God used those circumstances to answer prayers I didn’t even know I had. If I hadn’t been rejected by those programs, I wouldn’t have met my husband.

Many of us have had personal disappointments that we later recognize were acts of grace. But in the midst of difficult circumstances, it feels impossible that God could transform something bad into something good.

In today’s reading, Paul is in prison; his enemies are making his life even harder. Yet Paul is able to rejoice because he knows that a sovereign God is using these circumstances to spread the gospel. Paul also trusts that God will use those same circumstances to deliver him. What gives Paul such confidence? Jesus Christ. On the cross, Jesus looked like a total failure. Yet what seemed like utter defeat was the means by which God purchased our redemption. If God can redeem even the cross, what can keep him from redeeming the circumstances of your life? God is working through your circumstances to accomplish something greater than you can imagine. Give thanks!

As you pray, thank God for a time when he transformed your failure or disappointment into something good.

About the Author

Jane Olson is a college counselor and high school teacher. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and children.

This entry is part 3 of 15 in the series Habits of a Thankful Heart