It’s a universal longing. There’s nothing wrong with wanting happiness because, despite what some may think, God wants it for us too. Happiness is in God’s nature and He has a strong desire to see us happy. In fact, He wants us to be happier than we can possibly imagine. He wants us to have the kind of unshakeable happiness the Bible calls joy. But sometimes this doesn’t come packaged the way we imagined.
The Apostle Paul’s life was colored by horrific experiences. He willingly and even gladly suffered many hardships: he was beaten, shipwrecked, tortured and even jailed for sharing the Gospel. Yet what was Paul’s response to this while in jail? Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice(Phil.4:4).
Now let’s take off our Christian masks for a second and be real here. Rejoice? In prison? No, I’ll rejoice when I’m lying on a beach somewhere. But not Paul. How does he do it? After everything this man endured, he still prayed and sang praises to God. We find him bragging about being in prison for Jesus! How many times have I acted like my entire world was falling apart because I didn’t get my way, and yet here’s Paul preaching happiness in prison. How does he rejoice and stay encouraged while facing some of the worst circumstances?
Paul knew a secret that few people know. He knew the secret to happiness. Except it wasn’t a secret; it’s written in plain sight in his letter to the people in Philippi. This letter was written by Paul while he was imprisoned, awaiting possible execution, and yet the book of Philippians mentions the words joy and rejoice more than all of the letters Paul wrote.
The world needs to hear this!
People are doing everything they can to be happy and it’s still elusive to most because they’re looking for it in all the wrong places. We have more suicides and drug usage than ever before because people aren’t happy.
Paul’s heart and passion come through loud and clear in this letter. It’s about perspective and Paul wants us to have an eternal perspective. He teaches us that happiness isn’t dependent upon our circumstances. True joy and happiness come from a solid and unchanging source – Jesus.
Paul’s prayer and secret to happiness:
Grow in love and knowledge of Jesus. If you understand who Jesus is, you’ll understand what happiness is. When Jesus is the focus, happiness is inevitable.
Grow in understanding (moral discernment). Discern between what’s vital and what’s trivial. When you take your focus off of Jesus, everything is trivial. The things that try to rob us of our happiness don’t matter in light of eternity.
Be filled with the fruit of salvation which produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Bring much glory and praise to God. When we live in this way, we’re pointing people to Jesus and the glory of God is made fully alive.
You have two choices in life: you can be tossed around by your circumstances and let them dictate your level of joy, or your joy can be found in Christ who is both sure and steadfast - an anchor for our souls. Let’s challenge ourselves daily to tap into this joy in all circumstances.