Among the most beloved books of the New Testament is the one with “joy” as the key word and theme. The Puritan poem, “Valley of Vision,” epitomizes Paul’s heart in Philippians. Truly, from the depths of the well (his prison cell), Paul seems to see God’s stars shining the brightest.
Speaking of vision, it was a divine vision, one in which Paul and his mission team were being summoned by a man of Macedonia, which led them to bring the gospel there (cf. Acts 16:6-10). Lydia and a band of religious women, along with her household, were the first saints known to this region (Acts 16:13-15). Always the opportunist, when Paul and his partner Silas were later imprisoned in Philippi for preaching the gospel, they converted the jailer and his family (cf. Acts 16:16-34).
Powerful and well-known are Paul’s words about death in the Lord (1:21), the humility of Christ (2:5-11), and the fact that Paul had suffered the loss of “all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (3:8). It was the upward call of God in Christ (3:14), the hope of the glorious resurrection body (3:20-21), that motivated him to face loss, turmoil, torture, — and even death — with no fear.
The Philippians saints were his “joy and crown” (4:1), and he encouraged their unceasing rejoicing in the Lord (4:4). That they might be whole in spirit, he encouraged them to be diligent in prayer, and pure in heart (4:4-9). And though he had learned to be content, he was ever grateful for their continual support of his ministry (4:10,15-16).
Saints are people of joy. They never regret the sacrifices they make for the sake of the gospel. We’re assured that God will provide for our every need – and richly so (4:19).
—Rick Kelley, “Prestonsburg Informer,” Oct 6