Life can be hard. Every day people face marital issues, financial problems, unemployment, business failures, or even persecution, just to name a few. It is in these desperate times that we seek relief from any number of sources. For the Christian, he or she should be seeking God’s word for such relief. The biblical antidote for such anxiety is rejoicing:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
You may be thinking this is easy for the Apostle Paul to write, being a majority writer of the New Testament, but it is important to remember that Paul is writing this letter in a Roman prison. He is in the darkest moments of his life, and yet he writes such uplifting words.
How is that possible?
He remembers his time in Philippi. Paul and Silas had answered God’s call to go to Macedonia and preach the gospel. As you read Acts 16, you see that Paul and Silas are wrongly beaten and imprisoned. So the question remains; how could Paul, in a Roman prison, look back to his time in Philippi, also a seemingly bleak time, and write such words?
As Paul Harvey used to say, here’s the rest of the story:
“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.’ Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’” (Acts 16:25-30)
Follow this closely; Paul is in a Roman prison most likely remembering a time when he was in a Philippian prison, writing to a church he started there. Part of the reason he is writing the Philippian church is to intervene in a dispute between Euodia and Syntyche. It would be worth your time to read Acts 16 and then Philippians to get the full sense.
Our pastor, Dr. Dennis Brunet, began a two-part sermon titled, “How to Discover the Peace of God.” Reminding us of Paul’s condition when he wrote Philippians, Dr. Brunet said, “Sometimes you just have to redecorate your surroundings.”
Think about that for a moment. If you find yourself in one of the situations I described at the beginning, you may not be able to change your circumstance or surroundings, but you can change how you look at them. You do it by rejoicing.
I’m not suggesting you rejoice about a divorce, bankruptcy, unemployment, or losing a business. Circumstances can definitely affect our happiness because it is based on what happens to us. However, you can affect your attitude about how you look at life in such situations. As Christians, we must always remember to Whom we belong:
“But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.” (Psalm 5:11)
Beloved, you may be in the midst of one of the most turbulent times you have ever faced. The present looks bleak and the future even worse. All around you seems to foretell only defeat and disaster. It even feels as though the walls are closing in on you.
That means it’s time to redecorate.
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Copyright © 2017 David Jeffers