In Prisons or Palaces…Rejoice! – By Daniel Sheridan
As I write this, I am in extreme pain. I live in constant pain, but today is far worse, so much so that I am unable to work and may not be able to for a long time. I tell you this because I want you to understand that what I am writing isn’t altered by circumstances – I am no “sunshine patriot” when it comes to my God. My current circumstance of terrible pain will serve as a pulpit from which I will magnify the glory, the grace, and the wonders of my great God and Savior.
Jesus Christ will not only prove to be successful in saving all mankind from sin and its consequences, but He has also proved successful in bringing joy to many hearts even through going through great trials.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians is, says Phillip Schaff, “the free outflow of tender love and gratitude, and full of joy and cheerfulness in the face of life and death. It is like his midnight hymn of praise in the dungeon of Philippi. ‘Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice’ (Phil. 4:4). This is the key-note of the letter. It proves that a healthy Christian faith, far from depressing and saddening the heart, makes truly happy and contented even in prison.”
“If any one,” challenges F.W. Farrar, “compare the spirit of the best-known classic writers in their adversity with that which was habitual to the far deeper wrongs and far deadlier sufferings of Paul – if he will compare the Epistle to the Philippians with the ‘Tristia’ of Ovid, the letters of Cicero from exile, or the treatise which Seneca dedicated to Polybius from his banishment in Corsica – he may see, if he will, the difference which Christianity has made in the happiness of man.”
I sing, with grace in my heart, the words of this marvelous hymn. Won’t you join me?
How tedious and tasteless the hours
When Jesus no longer I see!
Sweet prospects, sweet birds, and sweet flow’rs
Have all lost their sweetness to me.
The midsummer sun shines but dim,
The fields strive in vain to look gay;
But when I am happy in Him
December’s as pleasant as May.
Content with beholding His face,
My all to His pleasure resigned;
No changes of season or place,
Would make any change in my mind.
While blessed with a sense of His love,
A palace a toy would appear;
And prisons would palaces prove,
If Jesus would dwell with me there.
As always, in sickness and in health, in poverty or riches, both now and always, Jesus Christ is a Successful Savior!