Choosing Joy in All Circumstances


From the Series: Choosing Joy

Quiz: Which of these circumstances would you anticipate to bring the most joy into your life?

  • Having a fender bender on your way to work, for which you are of course, late.
  • Winning a major award, like, say, a leg lamp.
  • Losing everything you own as a hurricane sweeps through northwest Arkansas.
  • Finding the man or woman of your dreams, having 2.5 kids, and a picket fence.
  • None of the above?

It isn’t circumstances that create joy in us – it is our willful, purposeful choice to cultivate the right attitudes in the midst of any and all circumstances. Like Paul…

Philippians 1:12-20 NRSV

[12] I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, [13] so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; [14] and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear. [15] Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. [16] These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; [17] the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. [18] What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, [19] for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. [20] It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death.


1. I can choose to be confident through my circumstances.

Paul pointed out two huge benefits to the world around him that were based on the circumstances he was living through:

His suffering allowed people far from God to hear the gospel.

“including the whole palace guard…” v. 13

And look what happened…

And all the rest of God’s people send you greetings, too, especially those in Caesar’s household. Philippians 4:22 (NLT)

2 Timothy 1:8 NRSV

Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,

His suffering allowed believers to be challenged.

2. I can choose to be positive when I am criticized.

Nehemiah 6:3 NRSV

So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to come down to you?”

How do I choose positivity in the face of criticism? Squeeze any value out of it and then walk away. Dedicate yourself to something more important.

3. I can choose to be hopeful when nothing is certain.

“For I know… For I fully expect and hope…”

I cannot always know how things are going to turn out. I can’t know for sure if healing will come, if my job will remain steady, or if others around me will make good choices. What can I count on?

Things happen when God’s people pray.

Acts 12:5 NRSV

While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him.

Things happen when God’s Spirit helps me.

Things happen when we commit to honor Jesus.

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