Paul wrote his letter to the church that he helped found in Philippi with the theme of joy amidst suffering. That’s right; it is possible to experience joy even when we suffer. The opposite of joy is despair (anxiety or sorrow), our typical response to suffering.
Identify the area in your life where you are experiencing despair, and ask three questions. First, are you inward focused? Second, are you going through it alone? Third, are you allowing God to use your despair for ministry to others? Your answers are most likely, “Yes,” “Yes,” and “No.” In the first eleven verses of Philippians, Paul introduces us to a paradigm shift from despair to joy amidst suffering.
First, Paul demonstrates that joy begins with humility.
“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:1-2).
Notice that Paul refers to himself as a servant of Christ. Paul communicates the countercultural theme that he is a servant…by choice. Consequently, any suffering will be seen through the eyes of a servant, eyes that refocus from inward to outward.
This week, continually recite, “I’m a servant of Christ.” Or as one young lady wrote on her hand as a reminder, “I’M A SOC.” Bend the knees of your heart to Him, and watch your despair begin to be transformed into joy.