The Pathway of Adversity
Scripture: Philippians 1: 12-26
12 I want you to know, beloved,[f] that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard[g] and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; 14 and most of the brothers and sisters,[h] having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word[i] with greater boldness and without fear. 15 Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. 16 These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; 17 the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. 18 What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. 20 It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. 23 I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25 Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, 26 so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.
Utilizing the passage above, the video, and today’s sermon, consider the following questions:
- Read Philippians 1: 12-26. If you could speak to Paul about this stage of his life, what would you say to him?
- Do you think that God caused Paul’s adversity for the sake of the “greater good” of the Gospel being shared? Why do you think Paul never seems to ask the questions of “Why?” or “Why me?”
- Have you ever experienced adversity, that in the end, was an incredible gift to you? Would you be willing to share your experience with others?
- In Philippians 3:4b-9 Paul recounts his Jewish heritage. These aspects of life that he inherited or earned did not bring joy, in fact they were the source of his greatest sorrow. What things in life have you earned or inherited that have not brought the joy you expected them to deliver?
- Why do you think some of the most satisfying aspects of life cannot be earned?
- What elements of adversity are you currently experiencing? What questions are you asking God? Do they begin with “Why?” or “Why Me?” What questions might you ask that begin with “How?”
- A “dark night of the soul?” is to experience a lack of answers, walking through the darkness with nothing making sense. These often lead to great periods of spiritual strength. Have you ever lived through such a period of “unknowing?” Are you in such a place now?