Philippians 1:21-30 (NRSV)
Verse 21For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Verse 22If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. Verse 23I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; Verse 24but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Verse 25Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, Verse 26so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.
Verse 27Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, Verse 28and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God's doing. Verse 29For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well Verse 30since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
No one knows for sure Paul’s situation as to time and place when this letter is penned. But, while his exact circumstances aren’t clear, it does seem clear that he is in prison and that he is experiencing some weariness—even looking at death as welcome relief—ushering him fully into the presence of his Lord.
As this devotional is being written, the world appears to be especially weary. The pandemic persists; the political climate continues wrought with tension; the earth’s ecosystems need restoration at every turn—and beyond that, no one’s personal difficulties have lessened in any way.
It might be tempting to dream, along with Paul, of escaping to a better, carefree world. But then we read Paul’s words of resolve: He will carry on for the sake of the faith community—that the Church can progress, and joyfully serve the gospel.
Gracious God, help us to trust that you hold even our weariness in your hands. When our burdens weigh us down, help us to persist—for the sake of the community, and the sake of the gospel. Amen.