The book of Philippians is one of Paul’s prison epistles because he was under house arrest for two years in Rome. While we’re not under house arrest with a guard and chains, we’re under quarantine because of Covid-19.
Our situation is similar to Paul’s and he has ten lessons to teach us:
- 1. Be thankful for your church family. “I’m thankful for all of you every time I pray, and it’s always a prayer full of joy” (Phil. 1:4). As we pray for each other and keep tabs on one another, be thankful for the connections and the ability to stay connected.
2. Don’t be afraid of death. “Because for me, living serves Christ and dying is even better. If I continue to live in this world, I get results from my work. But I don’t know what I prefer. I’m torn between the two because I want to leave this life and be with Christ, which is far better” (Phil 1:21-23). In Paul’s opinion, it was far better to live with Christ.
3. Think of others before yourself. “Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others” (Phil 2:4). For us, this would mean social distancing, helping others out and not hoarding TP.
4. God enables you. “God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes. Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” (Phil 2:13-14). God will enable you to endure this time of quarantine without grumbling. Be thankful our quarantine won’t be two years, like Paul’s house arrest. Also be thankful we aren’t cooped up in an ark with all those animals for 40 days like Noah.
5. Even helpers get sick. Paul’s “brother, coworker, and fellow soldier;” Epaphroditus, “was so sick he nearly died. But God had mercy on him.” (Phil 2:27). All of our lives will be touched by the pandemic, whether personally, through sickness or job loss, or friends and relatives who experience sickness and job loss.
6. Paul lost everything but Christ. “I consider everything a loss in comparison with the superior value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have lost everything for him, but what I lost I think of as sewer trash, so that I might gain Christ” (Phil 3:10). Just as Paul lost everything for Christ, we’ve lost our previous way of living too. We’re all living differently now and yet still haven’t lost Christ.
7. Strive for goals. “The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14). Even in quarantine we can still have goals and work toward them. Even if it’s just to read a new book, try a new recipe or write a letter to a friend.
8. Seek God’s peace. “Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7). Even as we are living in these anxious times, if we bring all our requests to God, he will give us peace.
9. Be Content in all Things. “I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor” (Phil 4:12). We too can learn to be content with the current circumstances. They are different than our regular lives, but we can learn to adapt to this new normal.
10. God Meets Our Needs to Overflowing. “I now have plenty and it is more than enough. I am full to overflowing because I received the gifts that you sent from Epaphroditus, those gifts give of a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice that pleases God. My God will meet your every need out of his riches in the glory that is found in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:18-19). No matter whether there is a pandemic encircling the globe or not, God will meet all your needs to overflowing with his abundant resources.