What a wonderful epistle is Paul’s epistle to the Philippians. He begins by telling his readers that he always finds joy in their partnership with him in the gospel. Paul wishes that the love they exhibit “may abound more and more” (1:9). Paul also writes about his current imprisonment and how it is for Christ, a reality that is especially demonstrated in the fact that “most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (1:14).
People look for peace and calm and prosperity. Paul’s example, though, is a good illustration of the true Christian life and service that, sometimes, results not in these things but persecution and trouble. And yet, God uses such tribulations to advance the gospel. Paul even adds, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and how hear that I still have” (1:29,30). What, then? For Paul, as it must be for us, the great goal is not our comfort but that “Christ is proclaimed” (1:18). And in Christ, though tossed about by troubles, we can sing:
Jesus lives: henceforth is death
But the gate to life immortal;
This shall calm our trembling breath
When we pass its gloomy portal.
Jesus lives: our hearts know well
Nought from us his love shall sever;
Life nor death nor pow'rs of hell
Tear us from his keeping ever.
Alleluia! -- Christian Fürchtegott Gellert (18th century)