“Yes and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given through the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”
Philippians 1:18b- 19
The Apostle Paul is writing a very joyful letter to the Church in Philippi, and dealing with some of the difficulties that he has been facing. As he writes this Paul gives us the proper, Biblical perspective on the circumstances that we face in our lives. As believers we are called to love and glorify God with every aspect of our lives. At times it seems as if this is impossible on account of the overwhelming nature of our circumstances. When we look at the context of what Paul writes here we discover his perspective, which must become ours if we expect to enjoy the love of our God. Paul’s perspective was Gospel centred. The one question that he wrestled with was whether the Gospel would be advanced by his circumstances. The facts were that he was imprisoned, chained to a guard, and prevented from freely serving the Lord. For us such circumstances would be an intolerable hardship. For Paul they served to advance the Gospel cause. So he rejoiced in them.
The Prophet Jeremiah calls us to a different perspective on life from what is normal for us. He writes,
“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord.”
In the book of Job we read,
“Keep silent and let me speak; then let come to me what may. Why do I put myself in such jeopardy and take my life in my hands? Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him; I will surely defend my ways to His face. Indeed this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless man would dare come before Him!”
The Job quotation hints at the defence which Paul gives for his ministry. No matter what happens to him he is praying that the purposes of the Gospel will be advanced through his life or his death. This is the joyful approach that we are to take to our circumstances. Our prayer and our commitment must be that the Gospel purpose will be advanced by what we are facing.