Rejoicing in Hunger, Suffering, and Need
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” It would be impossible to tell just how many millions of lives over the past two millennia have been positively impacted and perhaps forever changed by all of the incredibly powerful truths found in Paul’s epistle to the Philippians. Sandwiched in between the ever-empowering and encouraging epistles to the first-century congregations of the Lord’s church in Ephesus and Colossae (which are often described as regarding the church of Christ and the Christ of the church respectively), these three epistles together, comprise the heart and soul of a trio of truth, without which our Bibles would be sadly lacking.
But do you recall what else they have in common? They were all written during Paul’s first Roman confinement. Really stop and consider that for a moment. Paul could no longer travel about to preach and teach as he had done in the past. While he still managed to visit with those who dared come and be with him (Acts 28:30-31), his social and occupational movements were now much more severely restricted. Life as he had known it – and perhaps even taken for granted – had now ground to a screeching halt. (Sound familiar?) Although Paul could not have known the full extent or possible divine purpose at the time, God, through Paul’s inability to carry on with his regular daily pursuits and activities, was providing him with the “free” time, to – amongst other things – write those three beautiful, magnificent, and all-empowering epistles (Rom. 8:28)!
So the question is: What are you doing for God with your new-found “free” time? Do you recall all of those instances wherein you may have said something like, “I just don’t have the time to study daily,” or, “I’d like to talk to people more about Jesus, but I’m just too busy?” Well, now you have it. Are you, like Paul (Phil. 1:12-13, 4:22), making the most of the time (Eph. 5:14-17)? God bless!