Remember waking up as a child on a Saturday morning to the bright sun glimmering through your window, while the smell of pancakes drifted through your door?
Or the first time your parents handed you the keys to the car and told you that curfew wasn’t until 10:00pm?
What about the night you graduated High School and the world was finally in your hands?
Yeah, those were some pretty good days. Undeniably joyful days.
I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the downside of “adulting”. The stress that comes along with paying bills, raising a family, making hard decisions, establishing a career, encountering health problems, and so much more. And it made think, “Does it have to be so challenging? Is it possible for our adult life to be just as joyful and blissful as childhood?”. And my friends, I believe it can be.
I think the problem isn’t about what age we are, what we’re going through, or the responsibilities we have. It’s about what we tell ourselves; the lies we believe.
When we believe a lie, it takes us down a messy road. If we tell ourselves, “Motherhood is just too much. The kids will never listen to me!”, we’re telling ourselves that we’re in control of our children’s hearts, and not our Father.
If we tell ourselves, “I wish I could leave my job, I hate it so much!”, we are forgetting who gave us that job to begin with, and that He has a divine plan for everything.
Shifting a negative mindset into a positive one that brings about joy, is something the Apostle Paul was an expert at. In fact, he wrote a whole book about it in the bible! Paul was in prison as he penned the book of Philippians (and Colossians). Did you catch that? Prison! If I were in prison, I’ll admit writing a book on how to be joyful in the midst of painful circumstances would be incredibly difficult! Not because there might be a lack of paper and pens, but because my heart probably wouldn’t be in the right place. What made Paul able to sit in a prison cell and joyfully and humbly write of his love of God?
Nine reasons why Paul had so much joy:
- He was confident that God would finish the work He started (Phil 1:6)
- He knew Gods provision was for his deliverance (Phil 1:19)
- He knew his placement in prison was to fulfills Gods good purpose (Phil 2:13)
- He never grumbled (Phil 2:14)
- He focused on the future instead of the past (Phil 3:13)
- He knew his citizenship was in Heaven (Phil 3:20)
- He was not anxious and thought on those things that are pure, lovely, and admirable (Phil 4:6-8)
- He learned to be content no matter his situation (Phil 4:11)
- He knew that he could do all things through Jesus (Phil 4:13)
Now, I have to be honest. When I see that Paul wasn’t anxious, he never grumbled, and he was content (in prison!), I have to ask, was he even human?!
All joking aside, Paul was human. He was flesh and blood and he was capable of focusing on the devastating circumstances he faced, but he chose not to. Paul indeed walked by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). He knew he could choose to stare at the prison walls and be consumed with fear and depression, or he could stare towards heaven and be filled with peace and joy. When it comes to our attitudes and beliefs about our lives, it is our choice where we plant our steps and set our focus.
Friends, life is chaotic at times. It is devastating in moments, sometimes for seasons. It’s easy to wallow in self-pity and throw up our hands and scream, “What are you doing, God?!”. But imagine if you could be content through all tribulations, if your confidence was in the Lords plan, and what if you chose to shout out praise instead of complaints? I believe that not only would your heart change, but your circumstances might as well. Today, I encourage you to choose joy like Paul.