I can think of no more powerful inspiration for having an eternal perspective during personal difficulty than Paul’s statement in Philippians 1:12-14. He writes this from a Roman prison:
Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
Paul’s twofold perspective about suffering and difficulty shows us this: he focuses on others around him who need to know Jesus, and he knows his response to suffering might strengthen the faith of others. Paul is actually thinking about the guards and others who will know about Jesus because of where he is and what’s happening to him.
He’s in prison, and he’s thinking about advancing the gospel from that very place.
From that very place!
When we find ourselves in a painful or discouraging place, we look around. Did God bring us here because someone here needs to know Him? Did God bring us here because our response to this suffering will greatly encourage the faith of others?
Can you imagine seeing every situation we’re in as holding these eternally significant purposes? Wherever I go, I think of who needs Jesus and how my attitude and behavior encourages others.