Paul was in a prison cell in Rome when he wrote the letter to the Philippians. He had gone through many years of imprisonment and unjust suffering at the hands of the Jews on one hand and the Roman authorities on the 20 never give upother. How many times he had been beaten, driven from cities, arrested, threatened, and stoned is a subject that is often discussed in the commentaries. Yet Paul never let that get to him nor does it deter him from his mission. He is a man of incredible courage and conviction and that carried him through his suffering. The thing that sustained him through it all was his indelible hope of future vindication. Philippians 1:19 Paul tells us, “I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance.”

Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees. Paul was a Jew who had studied under the most famous Jewish Rabbi’s in the world and Paul knew his Old Testament very well. The classic example of unjust suffering in the Bible has always been Job. No one lost his wealth, family and health to the extent that Job did. No one suffered more at the hand of his so-called friends than Job did. Although the book makes it clear that none of Job’s sufferings were due to his own behavior, he was constantly being accused of that being the case. In Job 13:15 we read in his response to his three friends accusations, “This will turn out for my deliverance.” Most translators have “this will turn out for my salvation.” But Paul’s words in Philippians 1:19 are a direct quote (word for word!) of Job’s words as recorded in the Septuagint, the Greek Translation of the Old Testament. Even though all the evil we could imagine has struck Job’s life, he knows God has not deserted him and will eventually make everything right. Paul expresses the same confidence.

We have Job’s example, just like Paul did, but we also have Paul’s example as well. When the world sees the innocent suffer they often ask “where is God now?” When my sister died at 48 one morning unexpectedly from a brain aneurism, it crossed my mind to ask God where he was as well. When people go through hard times and lose loved ones and see all the natural disasters and pain and suffering in the world, they often question their faith and some cast it aside. It becomes for them evidence of the non-existence of a loving, caring God. I hear this so often from people today! But people of faith who suffer eventually come back to God with the realization that He’s not done yet. The final chapter in our lives or in anyone’s life has not been written. Paul’s not saying that he’s certain he’ll be released from prison because we see latter in the text that he’s not certain at all. He’s actually expecting death. He’s saying with Job, “though He slays me, yet will I trust Him.” Job never gave up! Paul never gave up! We should never give up!