Hilda Polle is an alumnus of iServe Africa Apprenticeship Programme, a professional psychologist, currently working for a small NGO discipling ladies. Hilda has a big heart, a great testimony and loves serving the Lord and people. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians she finds huge encouragement, challenge and gospel perspective on our trials and suffering…
How many times have we complained and grumbled about our lives, our hurt, our seemingly unbearable situations? How many times have we thrown ourselves major pity parties and have attended countless others thrown in our honor? How many times have we cried, mourned, grumbled, gone to the city squares and shouted our complaints about our suffering for the whole world to hear?
So I look at Paul’s response to suffering in Philippians 1:12-25, and find that the Bible records that at this point, while writing to the Philippians, Paul is jailed and in chains. Back then, this must have been a deep, dark, smelly dungeon, inhabited by rats and roaches, not to mention the common lice and bugs that are part of most prison cells. With no electricity, Paul must have experienced many cold nights and I imagine his existence at that point must have been in very deplorable conditions. But what amazes me about Paul is his rejoicing spirit, persevering attitude and how he doesn’t grumble or complain despite his predicament. In fact in every chapter of Philippians Paul finds a reason to rejoice!!
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.
Being aware that there are probably other fellow believers who are deeply sympathizing with Paul and feeling sorry for him and maybe even wondering why God would allow such predicament to befall his faithful servant, Paul boldly assures them that his chains have served a greater good – advancing the Gospel, which is more important to him than his physical comfort. Mind you this would have been the perfect time and opportunity for Paul to complain, throw himself a pity party and probably seek sympathy from others. Instead he rejoices!
13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.
As a result of his chains, his stand for Christ is clearly known through the whole palace and probably even beyond and everyone knows that the reason for his chains is Christ Jesus and that he’d rather endure the hardship of being in prison than renounce his faith in Christ.
Paul was squeezed and hard pressed by his prevailing state of affairs and what exuded from his lips and heart was rejoicing and an attitude of gratitude.