Read: The Book of the Philippians
Reflect: Even a quick glance over the book of Philippians will show joy as a recurring theme in the book. Paul very clearly indicates that joy is not based upon our circumstances, but upon God’s character. If you are any older than a toddler, you already know that life is challenging, and that it can be very difficult to “feel” joyful. Paul wrote this letter from prison, and yet he writes about his “joy in Christ”. God, through Paul, teaches us in this epistle that our joy should be found in Christ, not in our circumstances.
Throughout the book, Paul writes about the things that bring him joy and cause him to rejoice. He rejoices in the Philippians’ partnership with him in the gospel; Christ being proclaimed (even when proclaimed by individuals with false motives); the prayers of the Philippians; the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ; his deliverance; Christ being honored; the Philippians being of the same mind; and the Philippians’ renewed concern for him.
That’s a lot to rejoice over! What’s most striking to me is the location Paul from which this unusual letter was written. Paul was in jail when he penned these words and was facing the possibility of his own execution.
I have a hard time finding things to rejoice over when my own life is comfortable, cushy even. This can be pretty deflating when I think about my own level of contentment in comparison to Paul’s. However, Paul tells us that he has “learned in whatever season… to be content”. It’s not something that happens overnight. Can God change our hearts that quickly? He certainly can, but in my experience, He uses experience after experience (after experience after experience…) to change our hearts and make us more like him. It’s a process, and it’s one that we are not in control of. Our change does not come from within us, but from the power of the Holy Spirit, in the method and time of the Father’s choosing. So, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to choose to be joyful despite (and even about) our circumstances. What a blessing it is to know that God is at work within us, giving us the grace we need to choose joy in every circumstance!
Apply: During this season of life, what have you allowed to steal your joy? Satan is always a thief and delights when delightful things are stolen from believers. Have you ever considered allowing the security system of God’s Word to arm your heart against joy stealers? Have you allowed Jesus to enter your daily life and to allow you to choose and see joy grow and not whither during this season? Maybe you want to make the Apostle Paul’s choice, your own choice.
Jess is a Jesus follower, wife to Matt, and mama to Davyd, Teddy, and Aderyn. She is a School Counselor (Licensed Social Worker) at an all-girls boarding school, and in her free time, enjoys reading, spending time with her family, being outdoors, eating good food, drinking good coffee, and crocheting anything in a straight line. She can be reached at Jlbird06@gmail.com