Exploring Philippians | Abounding Hope | Philippians 1.22-26 | Movementministriesblog.com   

by | May 10, 2022

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.” Philippians 1.22-26

It sounds as if Paul has a choice here. He could give up under persecution, imprisonment and trial and die and go and be with Jesus, or he could endure and remain and continue to encourage the church. This is not so hard to believe. The will to live keeps people going well after their time. I remember being at the death bed of my grandfather Pop and we were telling him that it was ok to go and be with the Lord. Often times when people are given permission to die, they give up their souls and pass from this world to the next. Even when Jesus was on the cross, the writer or Matthew writes, ”And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit,” (27.50).

The other option would have been for Paul to take his own life and commit suicide. Perhaps the pain and suffering was so great, both physically and mentally, that he could bare it no longer. He says he is ”torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ….but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” Was Paul considering this action to kill himself? I do not know because I’ve never been in a situation as trying and tumultuous as Paul.

Yet dying, when things get difficult, appears to be the easier path. The courage is in living. The courage is found deep within when things seem unbearable and we continue on. Christians all over the world who have been persecuted for their faith have endured through prayer and will power. People who face great challenges like sickness or disease often endure by relying upon the Lord and finding strength in Christ.

Paul’s purpose for remaining alive wasn’t for his own benefit but for the sake of the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel was at a pivotal point and Paul was the point man. He was the chief messenger and evangelist of the early church especially to the Gentiles. Paul says, ”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.” He was enduring not for his own benefit but for the sake of the Church and for Christ.

I’ve titled this post ”Abounding Hope.” Sometimes when difficulties come our way, abounding is the thing we want to do the least. We do not necessarily want to overcome and abound with joy. We often want to surrender to the bottle, or our beds, or to the world beyond. But Christ isn’t finished with any of us yet. If you are ready this, your suffering isn’t the end. Jesus is the joy in the midst of the gloom. He is offering you strength, providing you with a word of hope, and helping you endure until the pain has passed or he has completed his purpose with our lives on this planet.

The promise is that death doesn’t have the final say — Jesus says in John 14.3, ”And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” Don’t rush death. Don’t dismiss the pain. Lean into the Lord and allow the power of his Holy Spirit to bring healing and hope to you today.

“O Lord God, even when life gets difficult, you provide a promise of grace. You bring sunshine through the clouds, you renew the ground with your rain. And hope springs up just as the green grass blankets the pastures. Come now, Holy Spirit, bring help and healing to all in need. For those who are suffering, give them sustenance. For these who are sick, bring relief. For those who have experienced a loss, bring comfort. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen