“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.”
Have you ever heard of alchemy? It was a branch of chemistry, with origins as early as the 3rd century, that sought to turn base metals like iron into precious metals such as gold. Of course, the venture was neaver really successful, but these antiquated chemists’ point is well taken. Wouldn’t it be world-changing, at least in the short run, to have the ability to change iron into gold?
Perhaps our lives sometimes feel like they’re somewhere in this same fictional process. Either our circumstances, our sin, our relationships, or something else make us feel like we’re embedded in the never ending process of turing iron into gold…only it never works, because we all know its impossible. But God is the only alchemist in the world. He is committed to bringing every circumstance of our lives into glory. Like Paul here in Philippians, he uses the very chains of our lives to turn us into gold. Most of us think that he is going to quickly take the chains away, and that will be the path to gold. But our God is one who is so wise, so powerful, and so good as to use even the harshest circumstances of our lives to make us new, joyful, full, flourishing, glorious creatures. This future hope spills back into our present lives via thankfulness. Hope is the well-spring of thanks. Yes, even God’s future provision is cause for present thanks and hope. Today, wherever you’re at, take heart and trust in God, the great alchemist!