by Rick Warren — October 3, 2019
“I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News” (Philippians 1:12 NLT).
Ever since becoming a Christian on the road to Damascus, Paul had dreamed one great dream: He wanted to preach in Rome, the center of the universe at the time. His dream was to preach the Gospel in the most important city in the world.
But God had another idea. Instead of sending Paul to Rome to preach crusades, God made him a royal prisoner of Nero, who was Caesar at that time. Nero was about as wicked and as bad as you can get.
Paul was chained to a royal guard 24 hours a day for two years, and the guard was changed every four hours. Over two years in prison, he had 4,380 opportunities to witness to countless guards. Who’s the real prisoner here? Who had the captive audience?
This wasn’t Paul’s plan, but it was God’s all along, and it produced two results that we know for sure.
First of all, Philippians 4 says that within two years, some of Nero’s own household had become believers because of Paul’s witness in the royal court in Rome.
Secondly, it’s kind of hard to get a guy like Paul to stop moving. In prison, he was forced to be still, and as a result, he wrote parts of the New Testament. I wonder which had a bigger impact: his preaching in the Colosseum or the books he wrote that have revealed Jesus to untold numbers of people over the years.
Paul knew that God had a bigger plan, and he could be happy because he saw what God was doing through his problem.
Anytime you have a problem that’s starting to get you down, you need to do what Paul did: Learn to see it from God’s point of view. Ask, “What is God doing here? What’s the bigger picture? What’s the bigger perspective?” Then you’ll be able to face the problem in faith.