By: Gary Faucett
How many of you found the year 2020 difficult? If you haven’t, you need to check your pulse. To say it was a difficult year may be the understatement of the year. COVID interrupted our lives. It changed our lives in many ways, possibly forever.
It’s been a challenging year.
It’s been an exhausting year.
And then in the middle of all the pandemonium, you hear a pastor or missionary say, “Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings see what God has done!” Or possibly they said, “I know it’s been a difficult year, but let’s focus on the positive things and a brighter tomorrow!” Conceivably they were bold enough to say, “Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. Don’t worry about things, just continue to pray and have a thankful heart.”
As you heard that advice, your blood began to boil as you thought to yourself, “How can you say rejoice in a time like this?!”
Perhaps those leaders discovered the same secret that the apostle Paul found when he was writing to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all people. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, continue to make your requests known to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (4:4-7).
Can you imagine writing this while sitting in prison?! Not a 21st century American prison, but an ugly, filthy dungeon prison. The Apostle Paul can relate to the year many of us have had. He’s in the middle of big problems himself as he writes to the Philippians and says, “Rejoice!” And to drive his point home, he said, “and again I say, Rejoice!” Indeed, Paul had joy in the midst of his problems!
Paul continues: “…I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances. I know how to get along and live humbly, and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret, whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens and empowers me” (4:11-13).
That day, in that prison, Paul told us how we can be happy and content in every situation: we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!
Circumstances control most people’s (even Christians’) happiness. We depend on everyone and everything else to bring us happiness. Yet, true joy and peace come only through Christ!
In our next entry, we will talk about how Christ brings us true happiness in spite of the circumstances we face.
*Gary Faucett, together with his wife Naomi, is retired and serving voluntarily as the Member Care Facilitator for Mesoamerica Genesis.