Most of the brothers and sisters have had more confidence through the Lord to speak the word boldly and bravely because of my jail time. — Philippians 1:14
The older we get, the easier it becomes to have self-pity. Bad things happen and we respond with the eternal, “Why me?”
Paul, though, had a different perspective. He wrote Philippians while he was in prison. If there was any setting that could produce self-pity, it was a jail cell in Roman times. Smelly, dirty, uncomfortable, bug-ridden, awful/rotting food. Instead of turning inward and focusing on his bad luck and the tackiness of others, though, he turned outward.
The only way he could pull that off was by believing that life wasn’t about him, but about the One who gave him life in the first place. Paul lived to thank God “for his indescribable gift” of Jesus (2 Corinthians 9:15). Gratitude was his higher calling, so he could naturally look every day with the question, “What can I give thanks for?” When he wrote today’s verse, he concluded that he could give thanks for being in jail. He saw what good could come from it.
I’d like to have Paul as a role model as I go through life. In any situation, what can I find to give thanks for? What good is coming from it? How will it help other people? How will it promote good in the face of bad? How will it show that faith, hope, and love are what ultimately matter?
Paul wrote elsewhere, “Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
That’s a good verse to remember daily, not just when we’re doing jail time.