“Things never work out for me.”
Have you ever been there? I have. There are times when no matter what happens, it seems my best-laid plans just crumble around me. Other times, it seems I can stumble and stammer and everything turns out great.
It’s enough to make you feel like a pinball.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t have to be this way. The Lord really doesn’t want us on the emotional roller coaster we can find ourselves in.
Beginning the conclusion of his letter to his dear brothers and sisters in faith in the Roman city of Philippi, Paul offers a summary of the letter and also short, memorable expressions to remember. We read in Philippians 4:4-7:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7, New International Version
Joy has been the primary theme of this letter and it’s fitting that Paul is writing so much about it in these verses. We can be joyful because the Lord is near. In the sunshine and in the pouring rain, He is with us, dear Christian.
What the Holy Spirit has taught Paul and what he is passing on to us is that we have a lot of control over our lives. It’s just not in the way we think.
We want to control the circumstances of life and then if those circumstances line up the way we want, we are “joyful” about it. Scripture teaches us a different kind of control over our lives: our perception of it.
I don’t know where I first heard it but it stuck with me: “Life wouldn’t be so hard if we didn’t expect it to be so easy.” We can’t control how hard or easy life is.
But we can control our thoughts about it.
Joy is an attitude.
If you think everyone is out to get you, you’re probably right.
If you think the world is against you, it probably is.
If you think nothing ever works out your way, it probably doesn’t.
If you think your friends are flakes, they probably are.
If you think your church is terrible, you’re probably right.
If you think your pastor is self-centered and out of touch, I’m sure you’re on to something.
Because your attitude is fixed on the negative. Your behavior only lets you see the negative and not the positive.
That’s why joy is an attitude.
And if it’s an attitude, then joy is a choice.
Instead of seeing how wrong everything is, choose the joy: see the positive. Find the bright spot—look for it!
And “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (verses 6b-7).
Get off the roller coaster of highs and lows that depend on if something works out in your favor or not.
See the joy!
Focus on the positives!
Find the peace the Lord offers you.
Want more like this? Consider my book: 31 Days of Spiritual Wisdom: A Month in the Proverbs.