There Is Joy in Jesus Christ, Even When We Suffer

If you were to read a letter someone had written while being confined to a jail cell with only the bare essentials for survival, it';s very likely that the tone of the letter would be very dark and dismal. That is exactly the situation Paul was in when he wrote the letter to the Philippians, but his tone is filled with joy and without even a hint of darkness, complaining, or suffering. That is because Paul had learned to have joy in Christ, no matter what his present circumstances.

In fact, as Paul sits in his prison cell, all he can think to say about his situation is that it is benefiting others by bringing them the message of salvation and by emboldening those who are already Christians: “And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God';s message without fear” (Philippians 1:12–14).

The apostle Paul, along with his co-missionary Silas, founded the Philippian church during his second missionary journey (Acts 16:12–40). Their first convert was a woman named Lydia and her family, followed by a jailer in Philippi (who heard the message of Christ while guarding Paul and Silas) and his family.

This is far more than optimistic thinking. It';s a man who seems to take no thought of his suffering other than in what it can do for the good of the kingdom of God. It is a man who, humanly speaking, had every reason to complain and feel sorry for himself but who could do nothing but thank God that his imprisonment had helped further his own missionary work.

As you read through the first chapter of Philippians, ask yourself if you could be as positive and filled with joy as Paul obviously was if you were going through the kind of suffering he was going through.

Study Questions

How specifically does Paul describe his feelings for the believers in Philippi?

Who did Paul say heard the message of Christ through his imprisonment?

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