PAUL REJOICED!

by Kevin V. Rutherford

 

Paul was brutally beaten and thrown into prison in the     city of Philippi.  Paul was later released from that prison and sent on his way.  Sometime after being sent on his way he was arrested and eventually ended up in prison in Rome.  From this imprisonment Paul writes an inspired letter to the Christians he loved so dearly in Philippi.  A letter written to loved ones often contains some personal matters.  Paul’s letter was no different. He spoke personally of his condition and of the suffering that he faced.  However, he did not complain about his condition. In fact, he spoke of his suffering in a very encouraging way.

Instead of complaining about his imprisonment, Paul spoke of how his jail time had given him opportunities to spread the Gospel in the “palace, and in all other places (Philippians 1:12, 13).”  In addition he realized that his boldness in preaching, despite the suffering, encouraged many of his fellow Christians to greater confidence (Philippians 1:14).  There were even those who tried to make conditions worse for Paul while he was a prisoner, but Paul still saw the good that could come from those efforts (Philippians 1:15-18).  Paul was able to see the good in every situation.  He was able to focus on that which was positive and spiritual.

Paul not only faced difficulty in suffering in prison, but also faced the possibility of his own execution.  Surely this would be enough to dampen his spirits.  Not so.  Paul looked upon the positive aspects of being executed as well as the positive aspects of being spared (Philippians 21-24).  Not even the threat of death could diminish Paul’s hope and joy.

The old expression says, “enthusiasm is contagious.”  I think joy can be contagious also.  Paul’s joy at being in Christ and being able to suffer and sacrifice for Christ encouraged others.  In fact Paul specifically wrote to encourage his brethren even though he was suffering.  Paul told the church at Philippi to “rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 3:1).  Later Paul said, “rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).

How could Paul rejoice?  What was his secret?  Was it really a secret? The answer to the last question is “no.”  Paul didn’t keep the keys to his spiritual power, peace, and joy to himself.  He told us how to have the same positive, strong, and spiritual outlook.  Being strong like Paul involved such things as: putting the past behind him and moving on to greater spiritual heights (Philippians 3:13, 14), casting his cares and burdens upon God in prayer (Philippians 4:6, 7), focusing his mind on spiritual thoughts (Philippians 4:8), knowing how to be content in whatever state he found himself (Philippians 4:11, 12), and understanding that he could do anything he needed to with the help of Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:13).

When you suffer, do as did Paul.  Try to look for the good in every situation and trust in God for help.