It had been almost two years since my husband and I had been trying to conceive when our Preacher taught a series of sermons from the Book of Philippians that I will never forget. This book is a letter about joy; a letter that Paul wrote from deplorable conditions in a Roman prison cell to the Christians in Philippi. I also still happen to have the sermons (on cassette tape!) and want to share what I learned.
In the previous post, I described the circumstances in my life that I allowed to rob me of my joy. My actions revealed I was really looking for happiness – if I get pregnant, then I’ll be happy. Happiness has more to do with circumstances or “happenings”; things that take place that make us happy. Happiness is shallower than joy, which is deep-seated and spiritual. True joy may not always produce a smile, but it allows God’s purposes to be fulfilled in our lives.
The attitude we must have to maintain joy in spite of our sufferings or unfavorable circumstances is a single mind in service to God. God is like the sun and circumstances are like the clouds. God is never under circumstances; He orders them. He is above them. Circumstances should not stop us from doing what God wants us to do. Paul didn’t allow his circumstances to rob him of his joy because he was not living to enjoy circumstances. He lived to serve Jesus Christ.
Paul had the saints at Philippi in his mind, heart, and prayers. A single mind in service to God allows us to be concerned about others instead of ourselves. Too much introspection can destroy us. I’ve learned friendships are made not when you laugh, but when you cry. When we hurt, we can see others who hurt and comfort them.
If we try to maintain this attitude, one day we can look back and say, “What looked like the worst of circumstances – circumstances where most would say we wouldn’t ever want to go through again, but we don’t because – God used to propel us to where we are today.” Paul said in verse 20, “…Christ shall be magnified in my body…” When these things come into our lives – infertility, sickness, etc. – we can choose to live a life of grace, peace, and joy and become a magnifying glass of God’s.