I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.
Is it possible to live above our circumstances and experience true joy despite the struggles we face? The apostle Paul would say yes! In his letter to the Philippian Christians, Paul shared how to maintain outrageous joy despite difficult circumstances.
First of all, Paul maintained his joy by having gratitude for God’s blessings. In Philippians 1:3, Paul said, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.” Notice that word “remembrance,” because it’s key to understanding what Paul was saying. There is a direct relationship between how we think and how we feel. And one of the most powerful ways to maintain outrageous joy is to change your thinking. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As [a person] thinks within himself, so he is.” The first principle for maintaining your joy despite difficult circumstances is to change what you’re thinking about.
Remember, Paul was writing this letter from prison, facing his possible execution. He could’ve chosen to think about how tight the chains were or how bad the prison food was. But look at what Paul said instead: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5).
Paul was saying, in essence, “I’m not thinking about my circumstances right now. Instead, my dear Philippians, I’m remembering you, the people I love so much.” He was thinking about Lydia, whom he led to Christ (Acts 16:14). He was thinking of the demon-possessed girl in whose life God did a miracle (Acts 16:18). He was thinking about the Philippian jailer and his whole family (Acts 16:31-34). He was thinking about all the Philippian Christians who had written him letters of encouragement over the years and who sent him a generous financial gift. That’s how he maintained his joy.
May I share with you a secret? It is impossible to be depressed and grateful at the same time. You simply can’t do it. Years ago, I was feeling particularly low on a Monday morning, so I started thanking God for everything He’s done for me. I thanked Him for my wife and our daughters. For the wonderful church He has allowed me to serve. For the great ministry opportunities He has given me. For my health and the many blessings in my life. And as I kept expressing gratefulness to God for all these blessings, my depression evaporated. You see, a key to maintaining joy and living above your circumstances is to be overcome with gratitude. That’s why Paul had joy: he had learned the first principle of maintaining outrageous joy despite difficult circumstances–a gratitude for God’s blessings.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Outrageous Joy” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.