Paul showed us that the secret of happiness is not favorable circumstances but being in love with Jesus.

“I have full confidence that now as always Christ will be exalted through me, whether I live or die.” —Philippians 1:20

When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was on death row and very happily awaiting His execution. He was looking forward to dying and being with Christ. Rather than feeling helpless as most of us in this situation would, I sense that Paul is empowered by his relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact, in his letters Paul speaks, “with all boldness.” And although he mentions his longing to depart this life and be with Christ, he sees remaining on earth as not only a necessity for the benefit of the Philippians, but as a means by which he may continue to serve others.  If he would be spared death and/or released from prison, that would mean “productive toil” for the gospel, and this would be good too.

Paul was in a great mood because no matter what could happen to him, it would be good. If we sat on death row, most of us would be beside ourselves, depressed, and fearful. Paul felt differently because all that mattered to him was that Christ be proclaimed “in any and every way”. To Paul, “life” meant Christ; hence, dying was so much gain. Living for Christ was a joy, whether this meant working for Him, or dying for Him.

“To me, ‘life’ means Christ.” —Philippians 1:21

I live in Jesus, Who has completely changed my life. “Those things I used to consider gain I have now reappraised as loss in the light of Christ. I have come to rate all as loss in the light of the surpassing knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ. For His sake I have forfeited everything; I have accounted all else rubbish so that Christ may be my Wealth” (Phil 3:7-8).

I find my life at the foot of His cross. “I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me. I still live my human life, but it is a life of faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me. I will not treat God’s gracious gift as pointless” (Gal 2:19-21).

In terms of our own lives, most of us are required to cope with difficult circumstances from time to time. We may be imprisoned by depression, despair, anxiety, hate, or other problems that act as shackles in our lives. Although we may want to give up, we should, instead, emulate Paul and accept God’s love and the empowerment that accompanies it to work through hardships. God grants us many gifts and these include the ability to step back, tap into our faith, and confidently use prayer, problem solving, forgiveness, and other God-given skills to free ourselves from the shackles of despair and hopelessness. By doing this, we grow greatly through and with Jesus Christ and rejoice as Paul knowing that none of this is possible without God’s love. In recognizing this, we not only become empowered to live God’s message, but to spread the word through our new-found empathy and service to those most in need.

Paul showed us that the secret of happiness is not favorable circumstances but being in love with Jesus. His love covers a multitude of sins. It gives us joy in the midst of sorrows. God’s love never fails.


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