"I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out [turned out] rather unto the furtherance of the gospel" (Philippians 1:12).
In this verse, Paul tells the Christians in Philippi not to worry about all the things that they had heard had befallen him. And those "things" included great afflictions and infirmities.
Paul wrote this epistle while bound in a Roman prison. At that point he was a seasoned warrior of the gospel, having endured every conceivable hardship and human affliction imaginable. If you have studied Paul's life, you know the kinds of things he had faced: shipwrecks, beatings, buffetings, tauntings, mockings, persecutions, hunger, thirst, nakedness, defamation of character. Everywhere Paul went, it seemed, he was met by affliction, trouble and sorrow.
Yet Paul said, "None of these things move me" (Acts 20:24). Furthermore, he added, "No man should be moved [troubled] by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. . . . We told you before that we would suffer tribulation" (1 Thessalonians 3:3-4).
Paul was reassuring these believers, saying, "I've told you all along that if you're going to walk with Jesus, you will face afflictions. So now that these afflictions have come upon me, why are you so surprised? This is our appointed lot in life."
Try to get this picture in your mind: Here was a holy man, called by God to take the gospel to the nations. On every assignment, the Holy Spirit whispered to him, "Paul, the next stop isn't going to be easy. You're going to face opposition again. You'll find more afflictions, more testings."
I find this man's life absolutely amazing. Can you imagine it? Paul faced troubles and afflictions at every turn. At this point you may be saying, "Wait a minute! You're talking about Paul's life, not mine. He was appointed by God to suffer afflictions. I haven't been called to such a life." Wrong! The Bible says: "Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all" (Psalm 34:19).
The phrase "many are the afflictions" applies not just to Paul, but to us as well. We love to hear the last part of that verse, but do we rejoice in the first part, as well?