Philippians is the epistle of joy (1:4 & 25; 2:2, 17–18, 4:1 & 4), of thanksgiving and encouragement, of optimism and joy in the midst of “conflict” (1:30), “bonds” (1:13–14), “affliction” (4:14), and sufferings (3:10). Paul was in prison in Rome, the Philippians were discouraged for his circumstances, and Epaphroditus was seriously ill. It soon becomes clear that Paul’s joyful optimism was not in his circumstances but in faith. He prayed with joy because he was confident that whether circumstances changed (as they did with Epaphroditus 2:25–27) or not (as in the case of his own imprisonment), the Lord was working in the believers through the circumstances in order that they would “shine as lights in the world” (2:15) through the darkness of adversity.
It is in persecution, sickness, and disappointment that the Christian can find joy through prayer and shine in the strength of the risen Jesus (4:13).
Reading: “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy.”—Philippians 1:4