The question isn't if we will have problems. The question is when will we and what will they be? Life is a journey full of twists and turns, leaving us with a decision to make: Who or where will we turn when problems come? What will we do? What direction will we take?
One of my favorite pastors and authors, Erwin McManus, said "We have to stop pretending that faith makes life easier. Your faith doesn't make life easier, it makes you stronger."
A pastor named Paul wrote a letter to the first century Philippian church while he was going through a very difficult time. Paul had a spiritual encounter with Jesus about 25 years prior to writing this letter, and when he met Jesus his life changed dramatically. He became a great evangelist, teacher and pastor. He traveled and started many new churches; one of them in Philippi. Paul wrote this letter while he was a prisoner under house arrest in Rome; under 24/7 surveillance by a Roman soldier for teaching and helping others find and learn about Jesus Christ.
Paul had a mission to travel and help existing and start more churches, but he could not do so because of unfair persecution. So, he wrote letters while he awaited a trial that could end his life.
In Philippians 4:4, he wrote: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"
Difficulties give us an opportunity to discover true joy. Joy isn't based on our circumstances. Joy is based on our savior. Joy is based on our source of life and hope. Faith isn't blind. Faith is bold and beautiful, based on a consistent record of God's character over thousands of years.
In verse 5, he writes: "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near."
David in the Old Testament in Psalm 34 wrote that "the Lord is close to the broken hearted." We do not manufacture our own joy. When we do, that will often lead to more hurt and pain. Rather, because the Lord is near, we receive his joy. The joy of the Lord is our strength.
Because the Lord is near I don't have to panic, be afraid or insecure, blame others or demand my way. I can choose to be gentle. And my gentleness will inspire and impact others!
And then comes verse 6 and 7: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." When we spend quiet, focused time communicating with God through listening, talking, writing, music, reading, spending time in nature, exercising; keeping our eyes and ears wide open to see and hear from God, the result will be peace; peace that goes beyond our circumstances.
As an engineer I am quick to problem solve. I am still learning to be quick to pray and to praise God. How about you? Are you willing to rejoice in the Lord in all situations because he is near? Are you gentle or are you demanding your way? Are you quick to pray or is prayer your last resort?
God bless you. See you next Sunday!