I remember the moment like it was yesterday—the day I recognized the unbreakable link between troubles and joy. Ironically, that day and moment happened more than 20 years ago. 😉
My husband had just been called to pastor a church. And we were so excited to get started on that new journey.
During those first days, the sky seemed sunnier and the grass seemed greener. My heart fluttered with the anticipation of getting a new home, new church, and new set of friends to get to know, enjoy, and serve.
But, then, the proverbial “shoe” dropped. 😦
Someone told us about a man in the church (that we didn’t know) who had been spreading false rumors about my husband even before Gary could be installed as the next pastor.
Worse still, the man was the minister of music, which only added a sickening thud to the weight of that “shoe” on my heart.
I remember praying silently one day, “Lord, can there not be one moment in life that’s purely joyful and free of pain?”
My fairytale-chasing-days had come to an abrupt halt. #fallenworld
God was allowing the harsh realities of life to teach me the better and more important lessons that I needed to cling to rather than some warm-and-fuzzy, storybook ending.
I tell you that story because my most recent study of Philippians has reminded me of those very opposing yet coexisting realities.
It’s about how we handle these harsh realities, or better yet, who we turn to that makes all the difference!
5 Inspiring Ways Paul Used His Troubles to Ignite Joy
1. Joy was actually found in the trouble—not in the pleasant circumstance.
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. —Philippians 1:12-14
Paul realized that his arrest and sufferings for Christ were actually creating a joyful opportunity that pointed to the gospel.
What’s a trouble in your life or marriage that you can bear up under for Christ’s sake so that others are drawn to Him for help and joy?
2. Paul found joy in times of prayer.
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 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. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. —Philippians 1:4-7
One of the best ways we can reignite joy in our lives is by praising and thanking God, as well as reflecting on all the ways He has blessed us in times of prayer.
What is one blessing God has given you lately, especially through your friends and/or family?
3. Persevering during troubles gave Paul an opportunity to model joy.
Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me. —Philippians 1:25-26
If you are a Christ-follower, you have the unique opportunity to encourage others in their faith walk. Every time you model Christlikeness, God will bless you with joy in turn!
Who needs a good dose of Christlike modeling from you? Get busy! 😉
4. Pursuing unity with other believers increased Paul’s joy and everyone’s encouragement.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. —Philippians 2:1-2
As a Christ-follower, you also have the opportunity to generate joy simply by being united with other Christ-followers. This is the only option in my list that is somewhat dependent on others to cooperate.
Though Christ surely can soften even the hardest of hearts!
What is one way you can be more unified with other Christ-followers?
5. Endings and suffering were viewed redemptively, igniting more joy.
But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. —Philippians 2:17-18
Paul did not even view imprisonment or a Roman death sentence as a reason for worry or fear. He looked for God’s redemption of whatever trial he was facing, knowing he was gaining so much more through the loss!
What’s a loss that you fear? What is one way God could redeem it for your good and His glory?
6. Found joy in celebrating other people and their accomplishments.
So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me. —Philippians 2:29-30
Who can you honor and thank for making a difference for you and/or the gospel?
7. Turned his focus from earthly troubles to heavenly joys.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. —Philippians 3:20-21
I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me to know I’m going to gain a glorious body like Christ’s one day! #happydance
What are some of the ways you are joyful about heaven and being with Christ?
8. Guarded his mind with God’s good.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. —Philippians 4:8
This one works every single time I do it! How about you?
What is one true or noble or right or pure or lovely or admirable or excellent or praiseworthy joy in your life?
9. Noticed and rejoiced in the concern others showed to him.
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. —Philippians 4:10a
Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. —Philippians 4:14
Paul could even see the silver lining behind the dependency he had on others! Something, so many of us fear!
What is one way someone has shown concern for you recently?
10. Only did things through Christ’s strength.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. —Philippians 4:13
Paul knew that trying to do anything without Christ’s strength was an exercise in futility with frustration as the outcome. But doing it in Christ’s strength not only gets the job done but done with JOY!
What are you trying to do in your own strength?
Finally, the overarching and main way Paul ignited joy in his life was by reflecting Him.
Christ, of course! (Hover over link—Philippians 3:10-12).
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