Part 2: Joy in Tough Times
Pastor Dave Chiolero
Last week, Pastor Terry began a new series in the book of Philippians. We will continue today in chapter 1 verse 12.
Before I do, let me share a quick story:
There was once a farmer who began to look at his farm through critical eyes. Every place he looked on his farm he saw something wrong. So he decided to sell and move somewhere else. He contracted a realtor who came out to look things over. Then the realtor called to get the farmer’s approval for an ad for the newspaper. The ad spoke of a good location, a well-maintained house, sturdy barns, lush pasture, a beautiful pond, fertile soil and a great view. The farmer listened carefully then he asked the realtor to read it again. Finally the farmer responded, “Don’t put the ad in the newspaper. I’ve always wanted a place like that.
Our perspective is how we see life.
And sometimes it stinks.
Sometimes we need a new perspective. We need to see our situation through someone else’s eyes.
Has this ever happened to you?
My wife Kim and I live very close to the church and school. My kids just walk to school in the morning. When the bell rings, they can hear it from the kitchen table and still make it to class on time. Kim and I walk to work each day. We walk home for lunch. Our neighbors might think we work from home because our cars stay parked in the driveway much of the time. I don't stress out in morning traffic. It's a pretty sweet situation.
We’ve been living in this house for almost 10 years, and sometimes I forget how good it is. I’m not ready to sell it, but blessings can become normal and then forgotten.
My sister was visiting not long ago and reminded me how good we have it. She reminded me of now normal people live (shuttling kids everywhere, commuting to work) and after hearing her share from her perspective, it gave me new eyes – and made me happy.
Sometimes we need our perspective tweaked. We need to see things from a new angle so that we see it differently. And for those of us who serve Jesus, because our lives belong to Him, we need to see our situations in life through God’s eye’s.
In verse 12, the apostle Paul is encouraging the church in Philippi not to worry about him being in prison in Rome because God was using the situation for good.
Paul says, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.”
Paul’s saying, “I’ve come to realize, I understand, I see with new eyes, what God’s doing.”
Paul’s friends in the Philippian church were upset for him.
Have you ever gotten mad for your friend because of an unfair situation? You want to beat someone up for them.
I bet Paul was upset too at the beginning. He wanted to travel around a share the gospel with as many people as possible.
But, in his prison – in his chains - something happened that changed Paul’s perspective. Where he was able to say, “it’s good.”
I want you to think of something difficult your walking through.
What’s going on in your life that's hard?
What is it that changes our perspective to see the good in our tough situations? How do we change our minds?
1. Is it friends and family? Talking things over with trusted people who can shed new light on the situation. We just need to sit down and talk.
2. Is it prayer & the reading the Bible?
3. Maybe it’s time? Sometimes our perspective can line up with God quickly (I get frustrated with my wife - then God reminds me of what my life would be without her) So sometimes it’s a quick turn around, but sometimes it takes a long time.
I don’t know how long Paul had been in prison before writing this letter, but it was long enough for all the guards to hear the message of Jesus. (In total, he was there for a couple years.)
Some painful situations take a long time to start seeing anything good that God’s doing.
What’s something else that changes our perspective?
4. Is it our faith? That thing that’s deep down inside of us – it’s where we land when all else fails. That confidence that says, “no matter what’s happening to me, I know that God’s in control.” I know that He’s a good father and I’m in His care.
Romans 8:28 says
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to
1. It says God causes all things to work for good not that it will feel good.
2. It says according to His purpose not our purpose.
If we look at Romans 8:28 in context, it’s in a section of scripture talking about comparing our present suffering with the glory of eternity.
It’s saying that even though we struggle and suffer in life right now, stick with Jesus, because it’s going to be awesome in heaven.
What is it that changes our perspective to see the good in our tough situations?
New perspective comes in a variety of ways.
But here’s the promise: If we will allow ourselves (be open to) seeing through God’s eyes, we will see the good things coming out of our tough times – and that becomes our JOY.
Joy, I think, comes from a life fully surrendered in the hands of the father.
Do you know what happened as a result of Paul’s imprisonment?
1. All the prison guards heard the gospel – and others
2. Three books of the Bible were written.
3. Other believers became bold and started preaching.
Which brings me to my next point.
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.”
Vs. 14 – Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
Paul says, “because I got locked up, other believers stepped up their game.”
Courage breeds courage in others.
Faith breeds faith in others.
And when you pursue God in full surrender, it inspires others and gives them boldness to do the same.
Personal story: When we adopted Lorree and Allan into our family, and were able to share that story with everyone else, it inspired others to step up. Lot’s of people shared how it encouraged them.
Can you think of something you did for God that inspired someone around you? Isn’t that how it should work? That each of us would live our lives in full surrender and be courageous for Jesus. That others will be inspired to live boldly for God as well.
Parents: The best thing you can offer your children is to live courageously in front of them. Don’t get onto them. Instead, set the example for them. Your faith will birth faith in them.
Paul gets thrown in prison for preaching, and many people start preaching as a result. It’s the feeding of the 5000.
God multiplies his effectiveness when one person is willing to be broken for His sake.
My last point is found in verse 25 & 26:
Paul is wondering if he will be executed in prison, or eventually get out. He feels sure that he will get out and be able to see his friends again.
25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
There was a special relationship between Paul and the people of the Philippian church, a deep concern and love for each other. Paul writes about being with them again and their JOY OVERFLOWING because they’re together.
This is the way God designed us to be with each other. In deep relationship, true connection, loving each other, joy overflowing.