When Hard Times Come
by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Philippians 1:12-14
I. Life often goes in different in directions from what we expect.
A. It had long been Paul’s desire to go to Rome to preach the Gospel - Acts 19:21
B. It seemed though that something always came up which kept him from reaching his goal - Romans 1:13
C. It was his prayer that some way would be opened up to him - Romans 1:10
D. Things weren’t going well. Paul was arrested and held a prisoner in Judea. But the Lord promised Paul that he would go to Rome - Acts 23:11.
E. For two years Paul remained a prisoner. Eventually, Paul did go to Rome – in chains.
F. The book of Acts ends after Paul spent two years as a prisoner. Though a prisoner, he was allowed to rent his own house - Acts 28:30.
G. Being a prisoner did not stop Paul from teaching. In fact, he described himself as an ambassador in chains - Ephesians 6:19-20
H. Though being a prisoner was probably not how Paul imagined he would see Rome, yet the Gospel spread - Philippians 1:12-14
I. A disadvantage became an advantage.
II. Disadvantages can become an advantage when they cause us to depend more upon God.
A. Hardships help us learn that we need God
1. We learn not to fear this world - Psalms 46:1-2
2. God is our place of safety - Psalms 18:1-3
B. Even in the darkest time of his life, Job confesses - Job 19:23-27
C. Trials make us realize that our own abilities are inadequate
1. Proverbs 3:5-6 - We cannot lean on our own understanding. Our abilities are too unstable.
2. Jeremiah 10:23 - We don’t have the ability to direct our own steps.
3. In contrast God is able to far exceed our expectations - Ephesians 3:20-21
D. Trials destroy pride and keep us humble.
1. We should keep our perspective - Romans 12:3
2. God lifts up the humble - James 4:10
3. But He brings down the proud - Luke 14:11
E. Trials drive us to pray
1. Paul was tried to keep him from boasting - II Corinthians 12:8-10
2. We are more fervent in prayer when we reach the end of our rope - Luke 22:44
3. When we are starving in pigpens, we are more likely to think of the Father’s table - Luke 15:16-20
4. When our emotions are bruised and bleeding, we will more likely seek comfort with the Father - Psalms 34:18
5. Cast our burdens upon God - Psalms 55:22
F. Disadvantages turn to advantages when they cause us to spend more time on our knees before God.
III. Disadvantages can become advantages when they cause us to be more compassionate.
A. God wants us to be tenderhearted - Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:12-14
B. Usually, only after our hearts are broken are they open enough to pour out sympathy for others - II Corinthians 1:3-4
1. Until we endure pain, we can sympathize, but it is hard to empathize.
2. After walking barefoot down a rocky road, we have more compassion on a neighbor who must travel the same way.
3. Why did the Samaritan stop? Was it because he knew what it was like to be ignored by the Jews? - Luke 10:33-34
4. A person who has always enjoyed good health, struggles to understand another’s illness. If we never lost a loved one, we may not fully understand the grief of one who has.
5. If we never recognize our own sins, how can we be compassionate toward the failings of others? - Galatians 6:1-2
C. Disadvantages turn to advantages when they give us a greater capacity to be tenderhearted towards others.
IV. Disadvantages can become advantages when they cause us to long for heaven.
A. It is easy to fall in love with this world when we are picking lilies, but we long for heaven when we are pulling up thorns.
1. Paul’s life wasn’t easy - II Corinthians 11:23-28
2. He longed to trade the tatters of this life for the robes of glory - Philippians 1:21-23
B. When our world is falling apart, we look for a city whose foundations are set by God - Hebrews 11:10
C. When we are feeling low, we can seek the things that are above - Colossians 3:1-2
V. II Corinthians 4:16-5:2