Sermon: And in That I Rejoice (Philippians 1:12-18)
It is an entirely normal reaction to lament our circumstances when we are in the midst of suffering, and all the more so when we feel that specific kinds of suffering—illness, injuries, or even imprisonments—keep us from the work that God has commissioned us to do. But, while such a reaction may be normal, Paul’s own reaction to his circumstances of suffering help us to broaden our understanding of what God is doing in and through our afflictions, even to the point of rejoicing in the way that God is working.
Certainly, Paul could have easily made the case that his greatest effectiveness for ministry would have meant getting out of prison and back on the road planting churches in unreached areas. Nevertheless, in Philippians 1:12–18, Paul instead rejoices. But it is not only the case that neither his personal circumstances nor his external enemies are capable of thwarting the progress of the gospel; even more so, Paul rejoices to see that God has in fact used both kinds of setbacks even to advance the progress of the gospel. Regardless of his miserable conditions, Paul insists that he will rejoice in the new ways that he sees Christ proclaimed.