Thought for the Day by Katharine Salmon (St Chad’s)
The theme of Philippians 1:12-26 is joy in ministry. The keynote is Paul’s declaration, “I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice” (v. 18). He wrote that statement in the midst of some very difficult circumstances. He knew his time was limited and he had been imprisoned for the Gospel and shipwrecked. He would understand well the isolation many of us are experiencing in the pandemic. I have stood above his dingy, tiny cell in Rome and marvelled at how he kept going. Yet in spite of the difficulties, Paul rejoiced in the ministry God had given him.
Joy Amidst Difficulties
A believer’s spiritual maturity can be measured by what it takes to steal his joy. Joy is part of the fruit of a Spirit-controlled life (Gal. 5:22). We are to rejoice always (Phil. 4:4; 1 Thess. 5:16). In all circumstances the Spirit of God produces joy, so there ought not to be any time when we’re not rejoicing in some way. We may be worshipping differently. We cannot hug at the peace. We may not feel as united with our church family as we cannot meet together to talk about how we are. Some people may not yet have been able to go into a church building to pray as they may be very vulnerable.
Yet though we should not allow circumstances to make us sullen, bitter, or negative, the one thing that will rob our joy is sin. It’s then we cry out like the psalmist, “Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation” (Ps. 51:12). Nothing short of sin should steal our joy. But change, confusion, trials, attacks, unmet desires, conflict, and strained relationships can throw us off balance and rob us of our joy of we’re not careful.
We ought to expect trouble. Jesus said, “In the world you [will] have tribulation. To maintain our joy we must adopt God’s perspective regarding our trials. When we yield to the working of God’s Spirit in our lives, our difficulties will not overwhelm us.