Day 3

To Live Is Christ

from the Philippians reading plan

Philippians 1:12-26, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, James 3:13-18

BY Guest Writer

Years ago, I gave a talk about fear and anxiety. About thirty women settled into a cozy room as I began sharing some of my story. Looking back on my childhood, I see a little girl who wanted to play it safe, who perpetually problem-solved worst-case scenarios, one who felt shadowed by a vague sense of fear. This stream of anxiety ran steadily throughout my life, but no one would have known. I was the kid who easily made friends, loved school, and didn’t cause much trouble. I was the strong, steady one—until I wasn’t.

In my late twenties, in the midst of young marriage and new motherhood, the stream of anxiety became a flood. Panic attacks began to torment me. For the first time, my underground anxiety burst out and threatened to take center stage. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I didn’t want to admit my confusing fears, and I certainly didn’t want others to see my struggle. After all, I was supposed to be the strong, steady one.

At this point in my talk, I told the women that I had a secret. I began unbuttoning my shirt. Awkward silence filled the room. Underneath my faded, denim top I wore a white t-shirt and cold, bulky metal chains. No one had suspected that I was wearing chains, yet they were there the whole time—pinching, constraining, and weighing me down. We don’t always know the chains people are wrapped up in, do we?

The apostle and missionary Paul wore chains too. In his letter to the believers in the city of Philippi, Paul explains that he is “in chains for Christ” as he endures house arrest (Philippians 1:13 NIV). For years he has been misunderstood, criticized, slandered, and beaten, and now he is jailed in Rome.

Some could view Paul as a failure. Some could question his faith or even the power or goodness of God. Yet Paul is convinced that his current suffering is nothing to be ashamed of or to hide. On the contrary, he insists that his circumstances advance the gospel message. He tells the Philippians, “Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly” (Philippians 1:14 NIV). Even in jail, Paul rejoices that his guards are hearing about Jesus and that other believers are encouraged and empowered.

We may marvel at Paul’s perspective, but let’s not romanticize our chains. In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul reveals his weakness, fear, and trembling (v.3). We all chafe and wrestle with painful circumstances, those things we would never choose for ourselves, yet God still allows.

What pinches you, constrains you, or weighs you down? Our anxieties, our fears, our sufferings are heavy and costly. But we don’t have to hide them or be ashamed. Even our struggles can deepen our dependence on Christ and point others to the one who walks us through our darkest valleys and who redeems us—chains and all.

Patti Sauls lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband Scott and daughters, Abby and Ellie, where they serve alongside the people of Christ Presbyterian Church. Prior to living in Nashville, the Sauls planted churches in Kansas City and Saint Louis and served at New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church. A trained speech therapist, Patti also enjoys serving behind the scenes, hiking with friends, and reading good books.

Post Comments (65)

65 thoughts on "To Live Is Christ"

  1. Andrea Vielhaber says:

    I have struggled with anxiety and low self esteem for most of my life-as long as I can remember. It mainly manifests in my romantic relationships. I constantly personalize others behavior as a reflection of my worth. Daily, and sometimes multiple times a day, I remind myself that I am chosen, loved, and redeemed by the one true King. God’s love is ever present.

  2. Susan Crosby says:

    I think all believers have some sort of chain that besets us. The one common denominator in whatever is keeping us in chains is FEAR! FAITH can overcome the fear❤️

  3. Gina says:

    What a great visual demonstration! It reminded me Mercy Me’s song, ‘Jesus, Bring the Rain’.

  4. Casey McReynolds says:

    Great read except God does not want His children still living in chains. In Him we are new creations and deliverance is available. It’s important to realize that things like fear and anxiety are spirits that try to influence us and project to us they they are us and they belong to us – THEY DO NOT. I loved this reading except for the implication that we need these things to grow with God. We absolutely do not need them and they are not from God for us.

  5. haley says:

    one thing I find so powerful is how Paul didn’t turn his suffering inward– such as saying “I’m going through this to improve myself,” instead he saw his struggles as something that improve everyone around him by saying “yes, I’m struggling so that I may live in the truth of the Gospel and that others can experience that truth too”

    so powerful! let us focus outwards

  6. Sarah K says:

    Powerful message

  7. Michaela Presser says:

    I love how Paul writes so simply,

  8. Sher says:

    Your description of the unnoticeable buildup of anxiety could be my story exactly. And I’m so grateful that there is hope and healing for all of that. Thank you for sharing this!!

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