By Pastor Gary Jennings Jr.
When I read Philippians, I am struck by one word, optimism. Paul must have had a huge amount of it in order to write a book like Philippians while in jail in Rome, awaiting a trail which would determine whether he would live or die. If I were in a similar situation, what kind of letter would I write? Who knows, but Paul’s letter has a surprising amount of life and optimism and joy, given that it is written by someone in jail somewhat preparing himself to die. How does somebody in such circumstances write such a letter? Well, lets take a look at Philippians 1:18b – 20:
“I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”
When Paul talks about death, he isn’t thinking about a far off event, he is talking about the outcome of his trail. And this is how he deals with it, ‘whatever the outcome of the trail is, Jesus will be exalted in my body either way”. What an attitude. Paul goes on to say that whether he is free or in chains, whether he preaches or others preach the good news, its all good. No matter what happens, God’s plan will continue.
Many of us can be crippled by our uncertainty of the future. We deal with all sorts of either/or’s. Will I get this job or that job? Will I succeed in this or will I have to take another route? Paul dealt with probably the most stressful either/or I can think of, will I live or die? Although those are important questions, Paul wants to draw our attention to something even more important, will I exalt Christ in every situation? A lot of times God’s plan depends less on events and more on our choice in the midst of events. Paul was jailed 3 times and shipwrecked 3 times. I am sure it was tempting to see these events as getting in the way of Gods plan, but Paul instead saw them as opportunities to exalt Christ.
In a few days we will be celebrating Easter, Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s a celebration of how God can take the worst events and make them fit perfectly into His plan. So no matter what you are going through, be encouraged that we can exalt Christ in any situation, and that any shipwreck in our life can be redeemed.