There are many ways in which we may suffer. We can suffer physically, emotionally, relationally, economically, etc. The key to maintaining joy while suffering is by ensuring that none of these things are the source of our joy. Everything earthly is temporary, tainted by sin and slated for ultimate destruction. To make these our source of joy is to ensure that our joy is forever unstable.
You and I can endure suffering in any area, when our joy is safely placed in those things which are heavenly and eternal. Christ taught a related principle in Matthew 6:19-21.
Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
If we determine that joy is found in financial success, fulfilling relationships, or even physical health, we will be sorely disappointed. As wonderful as these things are, they are not true sources of joy. On the other hand, if we determine to derive our joy from eternal, spiritual priorities, our joy can’t be touched by life’s circumstances.
To have real, untouchable joy, we must always have a heart and mind set on heavenly things. In this way, we can maintain an eternal perspective even when we are in the thick of earthly trouble. Paul encouraged the believers at Colosse in this way.
Colossians 3:1-4 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Have you ever wondered why those growing believers who have experienced great struggles often emerge with greater joy? It’s because, through their troubles, they came to the clear realization that these things don’t hold the key to happiness. Oftentimes it is in the midst of suffering when we learn firsthand what really matters. By God’s grace he’s given us the written word of God, along with the examples of innumerable saints, to help us learn these lessons long before we ever have to experience them ourselves. Where do you place your joy?
The above is an excerpt from Pastor Rick’s study through the book of Philippians