It’s not as bad as you think.

The phone call jangled not just my ears but my faith.  This dear family had moved to Tucson for the mother’s health.  Her cancer had returned, forcing them into the next stage of the fight.  A change of climate, new doctors, and a chance to try an experimental treatment seemed good reasons to relocate.  Our church rallied to support them.  Meals, housecleaning, childcare for two elementary school kids were all accompanied by persistent prayers for her healing.  Then the call came.  She was going into hospice.  Lord, how can you let this happen?  Those children need their mother!  That man needs his wife! Don’t let her die! I couldn’t bear it.

Mark came home late that night after being with them.  “Honey, you won’t believe what I just encountered.  This family is not devastated.  They are being upheld by such grace that they are utterly at peace, despite the dreadful news.  It is beyond explanation.  God’s power…his love for them…was tangible! They actually were more concerned about encouraging me than having me encourage them.  I came away full of joy!”

Our passage this week is Philippians 1:12-26. After Paul has warmly greeted his beloved friends from Philippi, he turns to the primary reason for writing them.  They had heard about his imprisonment.  They knew that he faced probable execution.  It was unbearable, the worst possible news.  But what they didn’t know was how God was at work, both in the situation and in Paul. His opener, I want you to know…, is his way of saying “It’s not as bad as you think.”  Now let’s spend the week finding out why he said that.

Use the “Feasting On Christ Daily Worksheet” to guide your study.  We will focus on question #2 this week for discussion purposes, but feel free to chime in with other questions, insights, or applications as well.  Enjoy the feast!

Discussion question for the week: What does this passage teach me about God? You can expand this question by asking:  What does He do or say?  What does He love?  What does He hate?  What character qualities are evident?  What is His name in this section?  Do I have a personal question about God that I am bringing to this book?

8 comments on “It’s not as bad as you think.

  1. Courtney says:

    In this passage, Paul talks about Christ and his life “because of Christ”.

    That’s what stood out to me the most. Paul is in chains “because of Christ”. His situation is directly related to Christ. Our actions should be “because of Christ”. His imprisonment, his joy, his hope, his pride: “because of Christ”.

    This makes me wonder how my situation is directly related to Christ. How can everything I do be “because of Christ”. Personally, I am overcommitted to a lot of good things, so to live “because of Christ” instead of being stressed, depressed, distracted, I need to continually pray and listen for how God wants me to behave in each place I’m in.

    Trusting that the Holy Spirit will guide me and deliver me is a challenge. I didn’t realize I was relying on self until my eyes were opened to how each stressor was directly related to a lie. So I guess my personal question is how does God help me and deliver me? At work, at school, etc. My plan is to set aside time throughout the day to pray and confess how I’ve been trying to rely on self and petition for trust in God’s working in me and through me and open eyes for evidence of grace…?

    • rondi says:

      This is a late night post! I hope you got some sleep afterward :-).

      You saw a wonderful truth–that the circumstances of Paul’s life were not disconnected from Christ, but rather were from Him and for Him. And you also saw that this truth has great potential to bring perspective (and peace) to your life. And finally you saw that he promises “the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Beautiful observations!

      Thanks for posing a personal question. How does the rubber meet the road in your life…and mine? I certainly have known overcommitment and the pressures it brings. Beginning in prayer means that you are seeking God’s way out, not your own escape. That’s a great start. He is a faithful Savior who can deliver in multiple ways.

      Have others pray for you, too. Paul did.

      Then expect his help. He is committed to your joy. He loves to help you honor him. Even if you have gotten yourself into these circumstances, trusting him is the right way to get through it. He won’t let you down.

      Anyone else have thoughts on this?

      • Nichole says:

        In response to Courtney’s comment regarding making everything we do be because of Christ: I kind of realized the other day that our whole family, tends to get in this rut of the “daily grind” and start to believe the lie that these tasks, pursuits, and even mistakes define us. Which gets even more depressing when they aren’t completed or aren’t as fulfilling as they should be. Good news is, that they don’t and I think that glorifying God and enjoying Him daily, even through the details and mistakes, starts with remembering our identification in Christ, as beloved, redeemed, people who are pleasing to God regardless of how accomplished we are in the world. I know my joy can only come from that, but I need to be reminded a lot. “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…” (1:27) I think it is the way you live (the manner), and who you live for, not what your doing (as long as it is not outright wrong) is what is most important. Hopefully that is relevant.

        • Courtney says:

          Definitely relevant. Definitely encouraging. I received an e-mail from my someone in my homegroup who realized the same sort of thing about the details in his life. This e-mail and this blog have reminded me about where I find my identity. Though I know it is in Christ, I don’t believe it based on how I act.

          So it is a great reminder that I am a beloved, redeemed person who glorifies God by pursuing godliness (Prov 15). Thanks Nicole!

          • Courtney says:

            Joy received! Thought I’d share immediate, obvious blessing. Hope it blesses all who read:

            I read the posts, prayed for God’s leading and open eyes. Thought about Nicole’s post (especially: “Good news is, that they don’t and I think that glorifying God and enjoying Him daily, even through the details and mistakes, starts with remembering our identification in Christ, as beloved, redeemed, people who are pleasing to God regardless of how accomplished we are in the world. I know my joy can only come from that…”)

            Went on to read the “application” section in the “finding intimacy with God” article by William Farley that the young adults group is reading for saturday morning’s study. (trembling while typing this..? Excitement? Joy?) As my eyes are being opened to what humility looks like, I am reminded of my gifts. As I read through another article that lays out definitions of what my gifts look like (knowledge, wisdom, teaching, exhortation, helps/serving, teaching, hospitality, leadership) God brought to mind all the ways in which he draws me to himself and provides practical ways to use my gifts at work, school and church.

            When I am using my gifts on a daily basis (like studying right now, enjoying the Lord in my in-depth study of his Word, seeking to apply it and allow it to guide me throughout my day, having in mind the tasks i know i have for today) i have joy because i have been fulfilling my purpose.

            My insecure and depressing moments have increased throughout this semester because I have allowed my thoughts to focus on completing tasks rather than focusing on God’s will for me! SO exciting! Hope this all made sense! Off to work! Praise the Lord!

  2. Ann Eriksson says:

    I am really enjoying this “blog” thing 🙂 I was trying to figure out verse 1:13 where it says, “They preach because they love me,” (speaking of Paul). I never noticed that before. I always assumed it was mostly out of love for God, and never realized it had to do with their love for Paul himself. Then I wondered if they preached more boldly hoping that if lots of Christians weren’t afraid to preach Christ, Paul might be freed, or at least his life spared, and the Romans would ultimately not try to put as many Christians in jail. I’ve always thought more about how much Paul loved everyone, and not so much about how much they loved him. They surely loved him a lot. They must have been awfully afraid at times for themselves and their families, and very distraught that he might be killed.

    • rondi says:

      Great observation–I hadn’t seen that–and lovely train of thought that followed. Thank you, Annie, for sharing your insights.

  3. Becky Priest says:

    Like the dutiful little student I am, I was answering Rondi’s question of the week as I read Philippians, which was, “What does this teach me about God?” I think God showed me three things about Him. 1. That He orchestrates/ordains all the circumstances in our lives so that His Name is known. Sometimes that even means being in prison, because clearly, God’s Name is being made known MORE because of Paul being in prison. 2. Then I learn that I do not need to fear “being in prison” because when I’m there, my gracious God will give me the ability to rejoice in Him instead of having bitterness, as I can see from how much Paul was rejoicing despite being in prison. 3. That Christ will be honored whether I live or die – and more – that dying is better!
    This feeds my faith because I love how v22 says that as long as I am alive I have “fruitful labor” to do. This helps me to rejoice and not look at the tasks before me today with discouragement or apathy, but to know He has designed these as my fruitful labor, for His Name.