This morning I heard that today is officially the most depressing day of the year. The reasons this psychologist gave were the following: It is dark for a long time; New Years resolutions have mostly been broken; Christmas debt have shown itself, and the poor weather has gotten old. This psychologist’s conclusions are enough for me to not want to listen to one. The reason is that they would encourage our joy to be found in things or in ourselves. But what we see from the Word of God is that true joy and satisfaction is only found in one place: the throne of God.
For the last six or so months the Jr High has been going through the book of Philippians. WIthin the book of Philippians, Paul repeatedly shares the command to rejoice. And as every Jr Higher can tell you, he’s writing this book from jail, not usually a setting that encourages joy. What do you think the reaction of the believers in Paul’s time was when they found out he was in jail? It probably sounded something like, “OH NO!! Paul’s in jail! Is God in control? Why would this happen?” Remember how important Paul was to the church. Remember what he meant to these young believers. If we were in charge of organizing Paul’s life, I doubt any of us would have planned for a couple stays in jail. But we aren’t the ones in charge of planning our lives.
Some people think that Paul should not have gone down to Jerusalem, and was in jail as a result of Paul’s own sin. This view is definately a valid thought. Look at Acts 21:4. Men were telling Paul in the Spirit not to go on to Jerusalem, but he did not listen to them, and continued on. In Jerusalem he was arrested, and shipped off to jail. Eventually he found himself in Rome, where he penned these books.
Was Paul in jail as a result of his disobedience? i think that conclusion can be drawn and is safe. Did God use Paul’s sin to bring about a greater good? absolutely. Without this stay in jail, we may never have had the books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, or Philemon. God used Paul’s own failure.
And Paul’s joy was increased in the situation. He was humble to admit that the work would continue though he was in jail. And his present situation did not steal his joy. Paul’s joy was not in the success of his ministry. Paul’s joy was obviously not in material things, personal pursuits, or his position in life. Paul’s joy was “in the Lord”.
If Paul’s joy was in anything else, it would have been rocked. If Paul’s joy was found in anything else, it would not be a lasting joy, because nothing else in life is reliable. Let this heart of Paul be a lesson to us to make sure that our joy is found in God alone, and cannot be lost no matter what situation life brings us.