‘…whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel…’ Philippians 1.7
It is probably true for all of us that life is full of ‘ups and downs’. It’s encouraging that even the apostle Paul went through such times and knowing this helps to take away any nagging sense that for a Christian, life should be a continual bed of roses and if it is not then we must be at fault.
It may be that you are feeling fairly content with life; that you are actually reaching your potential, God is flowing through you and that you are being a channel of his love to others. Or conversely you may be feeling that you are in chains that prevent you from reaching your full potential. The temptation to feel bad about this can be overwhelming, but it may well be misplaced.
Paul never seemed to feel guilty about being in chains. It is tempting to think that it was different for him as he was in chains for the sake of the Gospel – a form of righteous suffering - but perhaps we can equate with this. Sometimes our suffering is through no fault of our own and we suffer simply because we are being ourselves. Simply being the people that God has created us to be can cause others to turn against us or ignore us.
If this describes you, perhaps the worst chain that can tie you down is the guilt that this produces within you. God does not condemn you for being the person he created you to be, so why should you let others?
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission