Many of us are becoming restless. As Attorney General William Barr put it, “The idea that you have to stay in your house is disturbingly close to house arrest.”  We want to be freed from our homes and return to some semblance of normalcy. These feelings are natural, but they may be distracting us from what God is trying to accomplish in our lives during this time.
When the Apostle Paul found himself under house arrest, he chose to write a letter to the church at Philippi. In his letter, Paul relayed what his confinement had taught him about joy and about where our focus ought to be as Christians. In light of our own “house arrest,” perhaps it would be worthwhile to review Paul’s teaching.
- Remain prayerful
“By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Php. 4:6). God responds to the prayers of His people. Prayer for ourselves and for others in difficulty. How God chooses to transform difficulties into good for those who love Him (Rom. 8:28) is influenced by the prayers of His people for one another, “I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance” (Php. 1:19).
- Reflect Christ in all circumstances
Paul’s difficulties were so great that he longed for death (Php. 1:22–23). Nevertheless, he believed that God would use his struggles to draw people to Himself, “Now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death” (Php. 1:20). His hope was that all Christians would adopt a similar mindset, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Php. 1:27).
- Focus on others
We shouldn’t focus on ourselves, your own needs, or even our own rights, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Php. 2:3). The more we focus on others, the less we will focus on ourselves, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Php. 2:3).
- Be faithful and obedient
We can’t stop striving to live according to our status as an adopted children of God, “As you have always obeyed … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Php. 2:12).
- Don’t complain
- Focus on what has been gained, not on what has been lost
Nothing this world has to offer compares to what we have gained in Christ. If we must lose something in this life to gain Christ, it is a price worth paying, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ … Only let us hold true to what we have attained” (Php. 3:8, 16).
- Rejoice in all circumstances
Difficult as it may be, we should be thankful for all things because we know that in all of it God is working. It may be that we are being sanctified, and it may be that God is using our circumstances to draw others to Himself. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Php. 4:4).
- Stand firm
We must be resolute in our commitment to Jesus Christ. It is easy to stand with Him in good times, but it is in times of great difficulty that our commitment is proven, “Stand firm thus in the Lord” (Php. 4:1).
- Don’t worry
When we lose sight of what truly matters, we begin to worry. This is because our focus shifts from Jesus Christ to ourselves, “Do not be anxious about anything” (Php. 4:6).
- Guard your thoughts
As imagers of God, He has gifted us with creative imaginations. However, if not controlled, we can create anxiety and fear simply by thinking upon the wrong things, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Php. 4:8).
These principles are easier said than done. Perhaps this is why God permitted the Apostle Paul to write them while under house arrest. For Paul these were not theoretical concepts. They were practical truths to which he was personally clinging.
God has not yet revealed to us what He is accomplishing in this time of coronavirus pandemic and state stay-at-home orders. What He has revealed through the Apostle Paul is how to respond in this time of difficulty.
1. “Attorney General William Barr on the Crisis.” Transcript of interview between Hugh Hewitt and William Barr. Hugh Hewitt Show, April 21, 2020. https://www.hughhewitt.com/attorney-general-william-barr-on-the-crisis/.
2. Silverstein, Jason. “Attorney General William Barr Says Coronavirus Shutdowns Are Like ‘House Arrest’ and Threatens Legal Action against States.” News. CBS News, April 22, 2020, 4:38 p.m. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/william-barr-attorney-general-coronavirus-shutdown-legal-action-threats/.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.