I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Philippians 1:12-14
Nothing is wasted with God.
There is something miraculous in that because no matter how hard we try in this day and age of “green”—in this time where passions for recycling and re-using run high—we still leave waste. We still find pieces and parts of everyday living that simply can’t be used. And in a more experiential aspect of life we find much we don’t want to use. There is much about our lives we’d rather hide, ignore, or simply wish was different. We don’t want to use some of what’s happened to us and some of what we’ve done to ourselves.
But for God things are different. When it comes to our lives, experiences, and every day happenings nothing is wasted. God uses it all. He takes everything and makes something from it. When we look at our best moments, our wise words, our times of servitude—it’s easy to see how God uses these (even if they are far and few between). But what about the other stuff? What about when we don’t act as we should? What about when life goes horribly wrong? When people say things we never thought we’d hear from them or when we find all our plans unraveling?
Nothing is wasted. God uses everything.
So when Paul finds himself imprisoned for his faith he doesn’t cry out to God in bitter anger. He doesn’t complain and wonder why God isn’t doing anything or how it could be that he isn’t rescued. He sees how God is using it. He sees how the gospel is advanced regardless of circumstances. People are hearing of Jesus who wouldn’t have if Paul had not been there. Brothers and sisters in the faith are finding confidence to be bold because Paul has led the way for them. I guess the real question for us has to be would this be enough? Would God’s name being glorified and his people being bold and his gospel being preached be enough for us or do we also require a modicum of comfort and recognition?
Of course we would say it’s enough. Of course we would argue that if we can see how God is using our circumstances then that would be all we need. Yet still we complain when things go differently than we wanted. Still we doubt and grumble and accuse when life gets hard.
And what about those times when we can’t see how God is using our circumstances? What about when all we see is our suffering and hardship? Can we trust then that God uses everything? Can we rest in the comfort that the gospel of Jesus advances relentlessly to the glory of God? Or do we only feel like resting when we are in circumstances of our own choosing where we feel some sense of control and are unafraid?
Can we look on our darkest and most difficult times without bitterness and simply rest in the truth that God wastes nothing, that he uses all? That everything that has happened to us God can use to serve his own great message of salvation even if we can’t exactly connect the dots of how our life has glorified him? Is it enough to trust and know that God uses everything? That he redeems all our life for his glory? Or do we still want something else? Are we still holding out to give thanks only after our expectations have been met and your thirst for comfort and security assuaged?