Paul is now an old man, he is in a prison in Rome, with a guard chained to him 24 hours a day, imagine that. Everything that Paul had has been taken away from him – his friends, his freedom, his ministry, and even his privacy. He is on death row awaiting his execution. Not an ideal place for anyone to be. Yet, Paul decided to focus on his purpose rather than his problem. And what was his purpose? Living for Jesus and being a conduit of Christ to everyone he meets.
He writes from the Jail in Philippians 1:22-25, 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.”
Paul says he is torn between two realities and certainly being taken away from his problems, living with Jesus Christ in His glory is the best alternative, but Paul says, ‘it is more necessary that I remain with all of you for your progress and joy in faith’. Paul makes the choice to stay focused on his purpose rather than his problems, even when he has lost everything, and he also says when I do that there is ‘Joy’. You cannot control what other people do to you, you cannot control death and diseases that come your way. But you can control how you respond to it. Paul chooses to serve others. What are some of the choices you and I have to make in life when we suffer? Is it to forgive someone, even when you are hurting? Choosing to focus on God’s purposes rather than being consumed by our own problems is a choice that leads to greater faith, this is the kind of faith that produces greater Joy. And remember, with Christ all things are possible.