How Can I Keep My Joy When Life’s Circumstances Are Changing All Around Me?
The apostle Paul founded the church at Philippi and had developed a close friendship with many of its members. At the beginning of his letter, (Philippians 1:12-21), Paul reminded the people (and us) that throughout the history of the world God has taken what seems to be a hindrance and obstacle, and, if His people stay patient and true to Him, converted it into a pulpit from which the Gospel is proclaimed.
Paul claims that good things happen as the Gospel goes forth, but bad things also happen to God’s children from time-to-time as the Gospel goes forth. The bottom line is that the Gospel goes forth. In light of it all, Paul says, “I choose to rejoice! I will continue to rejoice!” (Phil. 1:18). So, how can we keep our joy when life’s circumstances are changing all around us?
First, we must rely on the power of prayer. How can you be joyful when your situation is anything but happy? Paul encourages us to make the most of every opportunity by seeing God’s purposes in the problems, by making the Gospel our goal, by giving courage to other believers, and by making sure the message of Christ is all that matters.
Philippians 1:19 tells us that Paul was joyful in part because of the prayers of God’s people. It gave him great comfort to know that Christians were praying for him. Never underestimate the importance of intercession.
We also must rely on the provision of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit provides everything that we need. He is not stingy, but instead, lavishes His provision on us. Jesus taught us in John 14:26: “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Paul acknowledged in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Don’t miss the connection between how prayer leads to provision.
Lastly, we must give Jesus first place in our lives. Ultimately Paul was confident about his deliverance because he had given Christ first place in his life. Notice that he, “eagerly expects…that he will not be ashamed” (vs. 20). This is a cool word picture. It means that he is watching with his head lifted up and his neck stretched out, looking away from all other interests. The idea of earnest expectation, or to eagerly expect was used in Paul’s day of the watchman who peered into the darkness, expectantly looking for the distant beacon which would announce the capture of a major city by the Roman military forces.
Paul’s focus is on the future as he looks past his present circumstances. Because he is living for what is to come, he knows that he will not be ashamed. This is fleshed out in 1 John 2:28: “And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”Paul desires that Christ will be exalted in his life.
When people look at you do they see the greatness and glory of Christ, or do they see you? Are you making him bigger or smaller by the way you’re living? Psalm 34:3 says, “O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.” Philippians 1:21 is Paul’s purpose statement and should become ours as well. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Can you honestly say that? Is Christ your life? We could ask the question this way: Is Christ prominent in your life, or is He preeminent?