"I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel" (Philippians 1:12, NKJV).
"For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ . . ." (1:19).
The way things "turn out" is the main thing. The way things "turn out" is the important thing. You can endure any amount of mess in between if things "turn out" well in the end. C.S. Lewis made the point in one of his books that if a person's life ends in salvation, that glorious outcome will work backward to bathe in a joyous light all the misery and hardship that may have preceded it. By contrast, if a person's life ends in damnation, even the times in his past that he imagined as happy will appear dark and cursed by the pall that the final chapter casts over them.
Paul was writing these words from prison. He had already observed a lesson about life from many adventures in trusting the Lord. He had come to notice that you can't draw conclusions about your blessedness or lack thereof from the way things look one snapshot in time. And now in this prison, he was experiencing firsthand yet another confirmation of this principle. On the day he was thrown into jail, things looked bleak outwardly. A person of unseasoned faith may have been perplexed: How is God's kingdom furthered by me languishing here in a jail when there are so many people out there who need to hear the gospel? Aren't I his best evangelist?
But Paul is not a person of unseasoned faith. So while he is pleased, we may presume he is not positively shocked anymore by the new development that issues from his incarceration:
" . . . so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear" (1:13-14). (In 4:22, there is the suggestion that this jail time has resulted in conversions among "Caesar's household"!)
No wonder Paul can say with such confidence in a letter to the Corinthians that God "always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place" (2 Corinthians 2:14). See enough flips and "turn outs" in your life, and you will eventually arrive at the conclusion that when you put your trust firmly in Christ, victory is not just a sometimes thing but an "always" thing---regardless of how it looks in this present messy middle.
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