Life Circumstances and the Greater Progress of the Gospel
by Diane Ramirez
“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, . . .” (Philippians 1:12 NASB).
Paul wrote this to the church in Philippi when he was imprisoned in Rome. Of course, when we evaluate the lives of the apostles it seems a no-brainer that all of their circumstances would turn “out for the greater progress of the gospel;” but what about our ordinary lives? What about the circumstances of our past and present? How has God used them to progress the gospel?
I don’t know about you, but I’m usually more earthly minded than heavenly minded when unwelcome trauma finds me. However, when I recollect some of my life’s circumstances, I clearly see God’s hand of redemption and mercy. As I contemplated a couple of these recently, my first thought turned to my crisis pregnancy at the age of 15.
How did the circumstance of pre-marital sex further the gospel? Because God “ . . . causes all things to work together for good to those who love [Him],” (Romans 8:28 NASB), He flipped through his notebook to find plan B, since I foiled plan A. Our Father’s purpose and design is redemption and reconciliation. “For I know the plans that I have for you . . . plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope,” (Jeremiah 29:11 NASB). Later on, when He knew I was ready, the Lord led me into the ministry of the Tree of Life Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC).
The situation of my own teen pregnancy helped me to be able to counsel other young unwed mothers. Some rethought their choice to engage in pre-marital sex, to live with their boyfriends, or to have an abortion. Others recommitted their hearts to Christ, and the lives of babies were saved. Awesome!
Another circumstance God used was the death of our baby, Alicia Maria. Back in 1981, at nine months of pregnancy, I had an abruptio-placenta. Because I had a concealed hemorrhage, the medical staff unfortunately had no clue what was happening. Six years later, I awoke one day in terrible grief. After the kids had gone to school, I sat in my living room all day weeping as if Alicia had just died. I did not understand these strong emotions. But you see, God had a plan.
The next day when I went to the CPC to work, a young woman came in for counseling. When I asked her what the center could do for her, she tilted her head as to hold back her tears and said, “Six weeks ago my baby boy died. He was two weeks old.” Suddenly I understood. The Lord wanted my grief painfully fresh so that I could minister comfort to her. By walking her through her grief, she eventually put her faith in Christ.
While I never had an abortion, because of Alicia’s death, I understood losing something you could not get back. God used this ache to identify with women who had abortions. Because of knowing God’s comfort, I could assist post-abortal women in drawing closer to the Father’s heart where restoration, healing, and forgiveness were found.
God used my circumstances to progress His gospel; however, I want to affirm that God did not have me choose sex before marriage, nor did he cause my baby to die to further the gospel of Christ. No. What God did was take the circumstances of my life and work them for my good and the good of others. In His infinite wisdom, He restored what the enemy of my soul meant for evil against me and turned it into something valuable and useable for His kingdom. What a redeeming God we have!
Take time to review the circumstances of your life. How has God used your circumstances, good or bad, “for the greater progress of the gospel?” I think you will be surprised, especially if you have been unable to see how God has used your life to progress His gospel.
Father, Thank you for taking our transgressions and making them into something beautiful. We are indebted to you that you always have a plan B for our life when we foil your plan A. We are grateful for your life-affirming grace and mercy. In Jesus Name, Amen!
(A note from Susan: Diane is a free-lance writer and one of my girlfriends here at Father’s House. I enjoy her humor in our writer’s critique group. If you haven’t met Diane yet, corner her at church or during our upcoming retreat. Pick her brain about how one of our retreats changed her writing career. You will find that God really does want you to “Imagine the Possibilities!”)