Now, concerning myself, I want you to know, my brothers, that what has happened to me has, in effect, turned out to the advantage of the Gospel. For, first of all, my imprisonment means a personal witness for Christ before the palace guards not to mention others who come and go. Then, it means that most of our brothers, somehow taking fresh heart in the Lord from the very fact that I am a prisoner for Christ’s sake, have shown far more courage in boldly proclaiming the Word of God. (JBP)
In the town of Independence Alabama, there is a statue in the town square. Not unusual, except that this is a statue to a boll weevil; a pest that destroys cotton crops. The town was a cotton growing centre, and the boll weevil wiped out the crop many years before. So why the memorial statue? Because the local farmers realised they had to diversify and so branched out into growing peanuts which turned out more profitable than cotton. A terrible setback led to great progress. Hence the statue.
The apostle Paul knew nothing of boll weevils but he knew a thing or two about setbacks being blessings in disguise. He is in a Roman prison and writes to the Philippian church. He doesn’t complain about his plight, but puts it into a larger perspective. What seemed bad and was in fact both hurtful and unjust, was allowing good things to happen.
Life is not always good, but God is always good. Not all that happens to us is good, but God is good. We are not to pretend and so call a bad thing “good”. But we do want to see it as part of a larger story. Setbacks are painful but are not the whole story. And one day, all such considerations will not even be a memory: which is the greatest perspective of all.
Till then, take heart from these words of Helder Camara, “Accept surprises that upset your plans, shatter your dreams, give a completely different turn to your days and your life. It is not chance. Leave the Father free to weave the pattern of your days.”
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