As I’ve studied the book of Philemon, one verse has taken me be storm: Perhaps the reason he (Onesimus) was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good… (Philemon 1:15). This verse is based on four great propositions:
- God has a reason for everything that happens to us.
- We don’t always know the reason at the time.
- It’s all right to engage in some sanctified speculation as to the reason.
- This enables us to experience God’s joy and peace.
Just try to imagine Philemon’s frustration when he realized Onesimus was missing. He may have been angry. He may have been disappointed. He may have been hurt and heartbroken. He undoubtedly felt cheated, and he may have blamed himself.
And yet, his negative emotions did not reflect God’s realities. Had Philemon only realized it, this was one of the great days of his life. Because of this so-called negative circumstance, Onesimus would find Christ as his Savior; Philemon would receive him back as a brother; Paul would have the occasion to write another book of the Bible; Philemon and his home would be immortalized in Christian history; and 2000 years of legacy would ensue.
In his 1860 sermon “On Accidents,” Rev. Oliver Prescott Hiller put it this way:
There is no such thing as chance or an accident;–that all which befalls (us) is permitted by Divine Providence for (our) final good; and that what are called misfortunes, therefore, are, in truth, only blessings disguised.
From Pastor Morgan’s sermon “Useful Reasoning” from his series on the book of Philemon called “The Onesimus Complex,” under the sermon tab at www.donelson.org.