Philippians 1: 3-6 “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy (emphasis mine) because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
The one thing I love about the book of Philippians is it reminds me that I can be full of joy no matter what circumstance I find myself waist-high in. Paul wrote the book of Philippians while sitting in a prison cell in Rome, yet when he addresses the church at Philippi he said he is joyful… full of joy as a matter of fact.
I don’t know about you but if I were sitting in a jail cell…I would probably be more miserable than full of joy. But in this letter, Paul wanted to encourage the Philippians that they could have joy no matter what circumstance they faced. Why is this you ask? Because joy does come from outward circumstances…it comes from knowing Christ and depending on his strength rather than our own. Paul’s example here in the first chapter of Philippians is a great example of his dependence on Christ in every situation he faced. He kept his eyes on Jesus and was full of joy in the midst of very trying times.
Let’s take a look at another example from the Bible where looking at circumstances came into play. It was the night Jesus walked on water (Matthew 14:22-33). In these verses, we see the disciples in a boat in the middle of a raging storm. They were afraid at first because they thought he was a ghost. Jesus told them not to be afraid “Take heart; it is I”. Peter asked Jesus if he could join him out on the water and Jesus said “Come.” So Peter throws his leg over the side of the boat and out he goes. On to the raging sea towards Jesus, he doesn’t see the “circumstances” around him…his focus was centered on Jesus.
But wait there’s more…in an instant Peter notices the waves around him. He has taken his eyes off the One who is giving him strength to do what he set out to do…and down he goes. “Lord, Save me!” Peter cried. Without hesitation Jesus scoops Peter up.
Throughout our lives our circumstances will change. It is up to us to choose how we are going to let each situation affect us. Am I going to run and hide when things get tough or will I choose to, with joy and thanksgiving, look to the One who is steady and unchanging?
Today I choose to look to Jesus to see me through whatever this world has to throw at me. I know for a fact He won’t let me fall because His word promises He will never leave me or forsake me. (Deut. 31:6)
What about you? How will you choose to react to what is happening in your life? Will you wallow in your circumstances or are will you depend on Christ to fill you with his strength and joy?