“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs…” Philippians 1:27
Picture this: Scars cover your entire body, constant reminders of your dedication and devotion. The air holds such a stench that you can taste the mildew, stale waste, and odor of weeks without a shower. The verbal insults hurled at you hourly try to strip you of any dignity you have left. You haven’t been outside in, hmm, you can’t remember, but you know it’s been just as long since you’ve had a good meal and a nice, hot shower.
How would you be feeling? Better yet, what thoughts would be racing through your mind each day? Would you be planning revenge on those who caused you pain? Maybe you’d feel like giving up, a “what’s the use of living, anyways,” attitude. Or maybe, you’d be on your knees praying for those whom you love, turning the focus off of you and onto others. Wait, what? You might be asking, “How can you expect me to expend the energy on others when I’m barely surviving, here?” Am I right?
Because that’s exactly what Paul did. Even from jail, Paul’s heart was for the saints, his brothers and sisters in Christ. Because of the help from the Holy Spirit, He was able to turn his focus away from his own hardship and to helping his friends who were struggling with issues of their own. “Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” And not to be afraid of their adversaries. He told them he prayed for them to, “be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.” (Phil. 1:27, 1:10) I believe letters like this one kept him going each day. He wasn’t consumed with his circumstances, but on how he could help his friends.
Does It Matter What We Think? What better model for us to follow than the lives of Jesus and His disciples? While you might not currently be in Paul’s predicament, are you in a spiritual prison? Does it feel like the walls are closing in around you with no way out? You are NOT alone. God is with you, just like He was with Paul. He will help you.
How? We can start by praying a prayer of thankfulness to God every time we think of our brothers and sisters, “making request for (them) all with joy.” (Philippians 1:4)
What else? When we are tempted to fold our minds in on ourselves, ask God to put one person on your heart. Then reach out. Encourage them through a text or phone call, letting them know you think about them and pray for them. It is only when we turn our eyes away from ourselves that we can truly have the victory. Remember, if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)