Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[a] 20 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. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
Paul is in prison. He is a man who prior to following Jesus was a religious leader, respected and well known. He was also a Roman citizen, which carried its own privileged status. In other words, he has fallen from worldly renown to worldly shame as a result of following Jesus, now imprisoned as a criminal. And yet he is rejoicing! Here he is saying that he will praise God whatever the outcome of this imprisonment. If he dies, praise God, he gets to be with Jesus! If he lives, praise God, he gets to keep doing God’s work on earth! Seriously?!
When things do not appear to be going well, this is generally not what my prayers sound like. My prayers tend to be more along the lines of …’have I done something wrong? Did I mishear you God? I trusted you Lord, did all you asked, how have I ended up here?’. In short, my prayers tend to be much more self-centred!
God, please help me to pray as Paul does in all circumstances – praising you for all that brings glory to your name, even if it costs my own name. Help me await eagerly that moment when I meet you face to face, while thankfully using each day you’ve given me on this earth to glorify you here!
Written by Rhiannon Mellor