Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. (Philippians 1:12-14)
I once ran over my foot with a pallet jack loaded with cases of soup.
I don’t recommend it.
The wheel of the pallet jack ran up my foot, paused ever so briefly, and returned to the ground. During its journey, it took a moment to split my big toe like a grape.
It hurt. A lot.
The guys I worked with at the grocery store gathered around and tried to help…but there’s not much you can do for a popped toe. One of them, knowing I am a Christian, offered the following: “Hey, you’re not allowed to cuss, are you? Want me to cuss for you?” He then proceeded to turn to the store at large and scream a most creative string of profanities. Fortunately for us all, the customer count was pretty low at 1:00 a.m.
I became a bit of a curiosity for the guys, because although the pain was pretty intense, I didn’t pitch a fit or curse the heavens. As it happened, from that day on they took me, and perhaps my faith, a little more seriously.
Did what happened to me serve to advance the gospel? I think, in a really truly very small way, yes.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you have never been imprisoned because of your faith in Christ. I certainly haven’t. I’d be hard pressed to show any moment in my life in which I was persecuted for the gospel. But difficult things have happened to me, just as they happen to you. The way that we respond to these difficulties shines like a beacon to the people around us.
Today, tomorrow, this week or next, something hard is going to come your way. When it happens, let it serve to advance the gospel. Let those who see you see that you are different. Maybe they’ll even ask you why you’re different.
Then you get to tell them.