PHILIPPIANS 4: Burning Huts & Islands of Despair (Phil 1:7)

rembrandt-apostle_paul10Pull up a slab of rock, light a candle and grab a quill, ink and a scrap of papyrus to take notes. We’re journeying together back to the year AD 58 to a Roman prison cell to listen in as Paul pens his letter to his Christian brothers and sisters in the city of Philippi. What can his letter speak to us some 2,000 years later?

“…Whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me” (Phil 1:7b).  

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. “God, how could you do this to me!” he cried.

Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” asked the weary man of his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we shouldn’t lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God. 

desert-islandWhen things are going our way, it is easy to give thanks to God for his amazing grace and love.  We feel blessed as we enjoy God’s favor.  Yet, how easily we get discouraged when life strands us on our own islands of grief and suffering.  We lose sight of God’s grace and retreat to our own huts of despair.  We thank God when life is good, and often blame him when our lives get shipwrecked. 

The Apostle Paul always remained anchored in a deep sense of God’s continual grace regardless of the circumstances.  He seemed to always be aware that the smoke of his life’s circumstances was continually summoning God’s grace.  Whether in prison or freely spreading the good news of Christ, Paul was always tapped into the amazing, never-ending, unconditional grace of God.   

Are you on cloud nine today, life is beautiful, and God is blessing your socks off?  Celebrate God’s grace.

Is your hut burning or are you shackled by your own set of chains?  Let your circumstances summon God’s grace.

“My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak” (2 Cor 12:9).  

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