Desmond laughed loudly. It slipped out before he knew it. Embarrassed, he glanced around, but nobody seemed bothered. Instead, they were all smiling, at him. They understood what he found funny.
Yes, they were in church, but it was at his house and very casual. Laughter and smiles were welcomed. In his religion, laughter comes easily, and a quiet inner peace makes it almost impossible not to smile. And, they were immensely enjoying this church service. Why not? It was a beautiful day. The children played together contentedly. The smells of a good lunch waiting to be shared filled the room, and they were hearing from a dear old friend who had introduced most of them to this new life they now enjoyed together. How could they not be happy?
But Desmond had more reason to laugh than the rest. He understood better than the others the ironic truth of the imprisoned preacher’s statement in his letter: “What has happened to me has really served to advance the good news.”
Prison is hardly the best place to be, and this wasn’t this preacher’s first stint. Yet, he always managed to see something good in every situation – and in every person. Even in jail, he believed his God would use the circumstances to make something good happen. Even in his captors, he saw unlimited potential for good.
Desmond knew the preacher was right because he himself was living proof of it. He was the good thing that God had done when this preacher had been locked up in the jail where Desmond worked. It was then that he became a believer, and his life changed forever.
Now, watching his teen son reading to the church, the jailer knew what God could do in a bad situation. Seeing the sweet smile of his wife whom he had so often mistreated in his former life, he knew that, with this God, there was no such thing as a hopeless case.
Desmond (shortened form of Greek for “jailer”) lived long ago in Philippi. He and his family became believers because Paul shared the good news with them while in their jail. They all died centuries ago. But the words in that letter live on. Their truth does, too.
There is neither person nor situation from which God cannot bring something good. That is why those in Christ can “Rejoice in the Lord always. . . (and) not be anxious about anything” (Philippians 4: 4-6).