What a year this has been, eh? 2020. No one could have predicted this. It has been difficult. And yet I am reminded of the Apostle Paul in a Roman jail writing a book that mentions joy more than any other! Paul’s dream was to go to Rome to preach the gospel. Instead of going to Rome as a preacher – he went as a prisoner. Illegally arrested and falsely charged his case got buried in 2 years of bureaucratic red tape. Hearing of his imprisonment the Philippians sent a gift to encourage him. Surely, he was depressed for his evangelistic ministry would be at a standstill. But Paul wasn’t discouraged. “I want you to know … that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,” Phil 1:12.
“Advance” describes pioneer woodcutters clearing a path. It is a military term too – engineers removing rocks and trees as they prepare a road for the advancing army. Instead of hindering the gospel’s advance – Paul’s imprisonment was spreading it. In fact, we learn later in the book, some had come to Christ because of it. Wow!
Joy is not the result of right circumstances but from a gospel-focus. Only eternity will reveal how this year helped in spreading the gospel. We just don’t have a full picture on what God has done – and is doing right now. The right perspective is crucial. One ship sails east; one ship sails west, regardless of how the winds blow. It is the set of the sail – and not the gale that determines the way they will go. Is your sail set toward advancing Christ’s gospel?