I’m currently meditating my way through everyone’s favourite New Testament book, Philippians.
In chapter one, I’m again struck by Paul’s methods of coping with puzzling and perplexing problems.
He’s been incarcerated for over two years.
No doubt he’s had moments of sheer frustration as his church planting endeavours are stalled and he is unable to visit churches to empower them afresh through his godly leadership.
I can’t imagine how it would have been for this driven, Type A personality leader whose passion was to plant churches in virgin regions.
Then, to add insult to injury, there are pastors using his imprisonment as a platform to promote their own ministries.
What’s worse is they hope to add pain to Paul’s predicament!
Talk about puzzling and perplexing! It’s really disturbing.
Why would first century New Testament pastors behave in this manner?
How does Paul cope with these puzzling and perplexing problems?
Firstly, Paul asks the question, “What then?”
When faced with puzzling and perplexing problems I think it’s always worthwhile to stop and ask yourself “What then?”
What’s really going on? What’s the situation behind the problem? What is Jesus wanting to achieve?
Then we see Paul’s solution.
He moves to the silver lining in this cloudy issue.
He recognizes that regardless of motive (and there were some stinking motives) Jesus Christ is still being preached. His Lord is still being declared and people are hearing the gospel.
Paul’s ability to look past the personal and scandalous wrongdoing and find the redeemable portion is simply stunning.
He did this because of his Christ-centric approach to life. Christ was his passion, his focus, his treasure.
He finds the silver lining by focusing on Christ.
Now I want you to consider your most puzzling and perplexing problem.
Ask yourself, “What then?”
How is Christ working in this problem? What is His purpose? How will He get glory in this scenario?
Maybe there’s a silver lining in there for you to find.
Bring Christ into the centre of your problem and look at it again with fresh eyes.
Next, Paul goes to worship.
Now that seems insane. Pastors, fuelled by narcissistic ambition, are revelling in your imprisonment and Paul is praising God!
Surely that’s madness.
Or maybe it reveals a leader with a large perspective and a different view on life.
Worshipping in the middle of your puzzling and perplexing problems is actually completely appropriate.
It beats worry, fretting, complaining and kicking the dog.
Of course the big question is how would I cope if I was in Paul’s position?
I’m not sure.
I’ve had puzzling and perplexing problems over the course of my Christian journey. Contradictions that never made sense. Problems that confounded me.
There’s one thing that this passage does to me every time I contemplate it. I decide that no problem is bigger than Jesus. He can give me the grace to outlast my problems and continue to worship Him.
So head to church this weekend. Worship. Look for Christ. Consider Him and His purpose for you. This will help you grow a healthy church.