Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
The power to rejoice in all circumstances is not achieved in the means of self-reliance or disciplined efforts. Rather, the power to rejoice is born from a complete reliance on God’s sovereign activity and the fellowship of believers. Paul explains in verse 19 why he can rejoice so freely in the gospel message. It is precisely because he will be delivered. Paul knows the power of prayer and the movement of the Holy Spirit.
It is easy to forget that prayer has value. After all, it often feels as though we are simply talking to the air. Seldom does God respond in an audible voice, and sometimes our prayers are so distant from ourselves that we cannot see the fruit of our labor. But pray we must. Though we do not see, the Spirit moves. We do not rest in the confidence of what we see. We rest in the confidence of our God. He is faithful to fulfil all his promises and He is sovereign over all things. It is in knowing Him and His character that our confidence is complete. The closer you are to Jesus, the greater your confidence in prayer and the working of the Spirit becomes.
Prayer and the help of the Spirit are the two comforts that Paul is sure of. When all else is stripped from him, prayer and the Spirit are the two things that cannot be taken. It matters not what material means are torn away from the believer, the fellowship a believer enjoys in prayer can never be taken away. Further, the prayers of the saints are connected through the Spirit. The Spirit is not confined by temporal means. It does not submit to prison walls or gates. The Spirit goes where it wishes. So Paul can rejoice, because Paul is not alone. Indeed, no Christian is ever truly alone and every believer can rest in the truth that God is actively involved in their struggles and trials.
When Paul uses the term “deliverance” in verse 19 it is within the context of extreme uncertainty. He is not sure that he will live or die under his current circumstances. He explains in verse 20 that he could live or die and that would still be deliverance. Most people don’t consider death to be deliverance. Yet, Paul implies that death or life would be deliverance. Life or death, Christ is in control and Paul is in His hands. This sort of contentment in circumstance is miraculous. There is no anxiety or fear in Paul’s words. He knows he will be delivered.
The deliverance he speaks of is not mere freedom from prison or material well-being. It is deliverance from shame. The shame of being justly rejected by God. Paul’s work in the ministry has been one of faithful obedience. His constant proclamation of the gospel will prove to validate the faith he so tenaciously defends. When Paul speaks of deliverance, he speaks of deliverance from futility and meaninglessness. He has a purpose in this life. Jesus Christ is honored in the body of Paul through the surrender of his own comfort and well-being for the sake of the gospel.
Oh that we would maintain such an attitude as Paul and Timothy. Consider what power the church would have if the believers therein practiced this sort of hope for deliverance. What a majestic sight for the world to behold: believers who think of deliverance as the validation of our ministry and the honor of Jesus Christ. Make up your mind that you are going to redefine what it means to be delivered. Change your definition from one of material rescue to gospel validation of the faith you hold so dear. If you can reckon this true in your hearts, your lifestyle will become Christian and you will exhibit the fruit of contentment in all circumstance.