Phil. 1 Joy-filled Suffering
“I want my kids to be happy.” “I want my spouse to make me happy.” “Happy is how I feel at the mall, especially when there’s a sale!” Happy talk abounds in our world today, but God has a much better idea. It’s called JOY. And we discovered more about it as we launched our study of Philippians.
“Happy” would likely not have been Paul’s emotional state as he sat chained in prison and penned this letter to the leaders of the beloved church he founded in Philippi. But, despite his dire situation, he wanted his co-workers in Christ to know that he was grateful and his work continued – even behind bars. “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.” (Phil. 1:12-13 ESV)
What? How could Paul have been thinking about reaching others when he himself was suffering in bondage? Paul’s single-minded focus on living for Christ lifted him above his current circumstances with a strength and conviction that came from the Lord. His abounding joy was the fruit of a life dedicated to following Jesus. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23 ESV)
You can’t get joy, it is a gift from God – and it’s eternal. Paul knew that. The book of Philippians proves it. Happiness, on the other hand, is circumstantial. It is determined by what’s happening around us and is usually temporary and often fleeting.
This week I pray that you discover joy, as Paul did, and rejoice in all of God’s blessings – even when you’re not happy.
Yes, and 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. (Phil. 18b-19 ESV)