Tests or Testimony?
I love what Paul says in Philipians 1:12, “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” When Paul wrote this, he was under house arrest in Rome. He literally had a Roman guard chained to him 24 hours a day (cf. Acts 28:16, Phil. 1:7, 13, 14). This is not how Paul probably envisioned his path to preach the gospel in the great capital of Rome.
The Greek word for advance here is prokope. It is a military term and originally meant to cut away the underbrush or clear the way so the troops could come through. In other words, it was the removal of barriers or obstacles so the army could advance to battle.
The Holy Spirit reveals to us and revealed to Paul, that what seemed like a huge obstacle (being chained to a guard inside a house for over two years) was actually an advancement of the gospel. Verses 13 and 14 tell us that the entire palace guard (some 9000 specialized Roman guards) knew of Jesus and the Roman church preached with more courage as a result of Paul’s imprisonment.
You see, God is a specialist in taking obstacles and turning them into opportunities. For Christians, God is working good out of all that seems bad (Rom. 8:28). If we empty ourselves and surrender our will to His, He takes our tests and turns them into testimony. For Christ followers, God never wastes a hurt. He always has a purpose behind our struggles. Many times we can’t see why. We have to trust Him and lean not on own understanding (Prov. 3:5). Christian, take heart in your troubles and remember, Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33)!! –C.Fry