By: Gary Faucett
In our previous post we started our exploration into Christ’s joy in the midst of difficult circumstances. The Apostle Paul gave us a great example of this. Acts 16 tells us that he had a vision from God that he was supposed to go minister to the people in Macedonia.
However, even though Paul and his companion Silas had a divine mandate from God to go and minister, everything didn’t go perfectly. Within just a few days, they were beaten and thrown in the worst part of the prison with their feet put in stocks (Acts 16:16-24).
But look at Paul and Silas’s response: “At midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God, and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25).
This is awesome! After the awful treatment that these two men endured, they were still giving thanks—praying and singing praises unto God. These two guys were so loud that the other prisoners could hear them! The Greek leads us to believe that the prisoners hung on every word Paul and Silas were singing. They weren’t just listening with their physical ears; they were listening with their hearts. Their praise ministered to the prisoners.
When was the last time your praise in a terrible situation ministered to someone?
It seems like today’s Christians are ready to leave the church service as soon as possible. But the prisoners were so blessed by Paul and Silas that when an earthquake came and the prison doors were opened and all of their chains fell off, none of them left! Seriously… none of them?!
How does this happen? Paul and Silas’ praise released God’s power. When you find yourself in an adverse situation and you offer genuine praises to God, you put yourself in a position to receive from Him! Praise is the key that unlocks God’s treasures.
Just as praise was the key to Paul’s success, it must be our key to success also.
Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again, I say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). This is such a radical concept, and I believe it’s the reason he repeated it. He didn’t want anyone to think this was a mistake. Rejoicing is an urgent command.
The whole world needs to hear this! Reader, I implore you. Share this message in your ministry. People are doing everything within their power to be happy, but it’s elusive to most. We have more suicides and drug usage than ever before because people aren’t happy. True joy can only be found in the Lord (Ps. 16:11).
The Scripture says, “I will bless the Lord at all times” (Psalm 34:1). David writes “all times.” That means that you can (and must) rejoice when circumstances are good and when they aren’t. Don’t pick and choose when you will rejoice… do it always!
You can look at people who appear to have the ideal circumstances—politicians, movie stars, athletes, etc. They have plenty of money, fame, recognition, and even the praises of some people. Yet with all their possessions, many are miserable! Happiness is not dependent upon circumstances. Paul understood this. Some people have never thought of him as a happy person, because of all the terrible circumstances he endured, but he was. He knew the secret to happiness (Phil. 4:12).
Paul’s letter to the Philippians was written by Paul when he was in prison, facing possible execution. Yet that book mentions joy and rejoicing more than any other letter Paul wrote.
Even in the middle of the worst of our situations – COVID or not – we still have much to be thankful for. The pace and the pressure of life often squeeze the joy from us. Our shoulders slump and our heads bow. We find some days—or months or years—very difficult to get through. Desperate, we often search for joy in all kinds of ways—acquiring possessions, visiting places, or seeing people. But none of these can provide lasting joy.
Paul’s joy at the mere thought of the Philippian church is undeniable in his letter. And it’s that same joy that he wanted all of us to possess also. His letter to the Philippians shows us that by centering our lives in Christ, we, too, might live in true joy.
Paul knew, as did the Philippians, that true joy comes only through humble faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ, harmony with Christ’s followers, and serving others in the name of Jesus. This was the life experienced by the Philippian believers, and it is a life available to us today.
Allow the joy of Christ to keep you from anxiety and complaints, and instead guide you into rejoicing and into peaceful and harmonious relationships with others.
*Gary Faucett, together with his wife Naomi, is retired and serving voluntarily as the Member Care Facilitator for Mesoamerica Genesis.