Writing from prison, the apostle Paul pours out his gratitude and rejoicing to the Philippians. It is an astonishing letter. He has every reason to anxious. He is a political prisoner, imprisoned for teaching about God’s kingdom and encouraging people to transfer their loyalty from Caesar’s kingdom to God’s kingdom. In that society, like many today, such teaching was viewed as subversive, worthy of imprisonment, and sometimes death. He writes frankly about the possibility he may not survive. He’s not being pessimistic, but realistic. If he doesn’t die soon, he will die later. That he will die is a certainty. None of us gets out of this life alive.
We all have to face our own death at one point or another. We can hide from it, but then every hint of threat will bring us anxiety and fear, and death when it comes will be traumatic and devastating. Or we can accept it, and put our lives in God’s hands. When we accept it, then we can cease living for ourselves and devote our lives to God’s service, and when we do that, we can live, like Paul, without anxiety or fear, but with hope and faith and trust. When we are living for a great cause, then we can truly let go of fear and believe that, with Paul, we can face whatever comes, trusting that some good will come out of it.