As I read through our Philippians passages this last week, I am intrigued by Paul writing to and praying for the Philippians; never letting the fact that his situation is less than stellar close him off from everyone. He continues with his mission and in fact, praises his own situation for good reason (vs 1:12). Because Christ is preached. Not because he's learning some valuable lesson by being in prison, but because God is using His situation for good. It is not wasted.
What kind of example is he showing us here? How can we learn from him?
There is nothing we can do to change our situation.
I've learned that sitting around constantly thinking of my own circumstances and how unfair it is is not productive in the least. Thinking positive thoughts doesn't get me what I want either. That's not faith. That's not to say we shouldn't think well when we are in tough situations. But to believe that thinking positively is in any way faith is a misrepresentation of faith.
I would encourage thinking truthfully, instead. Setting our minds on God's promises and on what is true according to His word helps take every thought captive. Having faith isn't about calling our good thoughts "faith" and believing they can change a situation. Faith is believing God is who He says He is and that He's going to do what He said He is going to do. Keeping that in mind, this releases us from being trapped by our circumstances so we can focus on others.
The world doesn't stop when we face trials.
Sometimes it can feel like the world has stopped when we are going through a difficult time. We can get tunnel vision and unknowingly remain focused on our own hardships. I think this can put a strain on our relationship with others. Sometimes people will understand your position and sometimes they won't and feel slighted.
However, regardless of how others feel, we can't ignore the fact that helping others through their tough times by prayer and by being available will deeper our relationship with them, mature us in the faith, and allow us to take our eyes off our own problems. Especially if we are facing circumstances that are out of our control; which lets face it, when are we really in control of how life hits us?
It's a tangible way to be selfless and love others.
Going back to taking the focus off our own situation, we are moving to a new level of selflessness when we choose to love others through prayer. When people tell me they've been praying for me, I feel SO special. Because who am I that they would take time out of their life to think of me and pray for me? It is one of the best gifts anyone can ever give.
They approached The Father on my behalf, presenting my broken heart and needs to Him. And when I felt like I was all prayed out, they carried me with their prayers. God's strength has been evident in me because of the prayers of others. And these people are also going through trials of their own.
The Bible encourages us to pray for one another, (James 5:16) for the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.