"Remember My Chains"
Four of the inspired writings we have from the apostle Paul came to us from his internment in Rome. These "prison epistles" each end with a reference to the conditions or status of his captivity. If we take a collective look at these small statements from Paul, we find encouragement and humbling reminders about the way we can handle our trials and struggles today.
"Remember my chains." (Colossians 4:18)
Closing his letter to the church in Colossae, Paul makes a simple request: remember my trial! Keep me in mind while I go through this hardship. He's not pretending everything is perfect and the struggles don't exist, but here acknowledges their weight--and asks his brothers and sisters to help share the weight by keeping him in their thoughts and prayers (cf. Hebrews 13:3). Don't let pride or fear keep you from asking your brothers and sisters in Christ for guidance, support and prayers to help you through the storms of life.
"...I am an ambassador in chains..." (Ephesians 6:20)
Paul understands his role even in difficult circumstances. He is an ambassador, a representative acting on behalf of the King of kings. This position comes with responsibility, mainly, to proclaim the mysteries of the gospel boldly. No caveat lets Paul wallow in the distress of his misfortune; the ambassador always represents the country he hails from (Philippians 3:20). In your troubles today, Christian, how are you continuing to be the salt and light of the earth (Matthew 5:13-16)?
"...My fellow prisoner..." (Philemon 23)
Here the apostle references Epaphras, another evangelist who is also imprisoned for his faith and work in Christ Jesus. While the life of a Christian isn't immune to heartache or challenges, one of the many spiritual blessings we have in Christ is his body, that is, the church. Here there is solidarity; here you are never alone, firstly because of our ever-present God and secondly because of spiritual siblings that care for you. Understand two things about your struggle today: you are not the only one to go through these things (I Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15-16), and God calls you to share the burden (Galatians 6:1-2; I Peter 5:6-10).
"...Especially those of Caesar's household." (Philippians 4:22)
*Mic drop!* Paul has already referenced his incarceration and its spiritual purpose at the start of the letter (Philippians 1:12-14), but here at the end he slips in this final detail: his preaching in prison has yielded fruit! Those living and serving in the household of one of the most godless men in history have submitted to truth and joined themselves to the God of the universe. Even in uncertain, terrifying, or discouraging seasons, God remains faithful to His child and accomplishes His kingdom's work through those willing to live as his children despite the dismal outlook. Knowing this, entrust your circumstances to God's purposes and glory, with the promise that trails make our relationship with Him stronger (I Peter 1:6-7) and He will open doors to fulfill our calling (rf. I Corinthians 16:9).
How are you handling those chains of yours today? Don't forget the chains of your brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray for each other. Display Christ as you go through your dilemmas. Keep your eyes fixed on the big picture, and know God is in control (Romans 8:28).