We're currently talking about how to overcome challenging circumstances and deal with the complexities which we sometimes experience in life. Bad things happen to good people but the bottom line is that we know that God is not the ones causing us suffering. He's not the one who is a sending tragedies and problems our way, he is the answer to our problems. He's not the author of our problems. Sometimes we're the author of our own problems.
John 10:10 says, the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came to give us life and life abundantly. And so we know from that scripture that if it's good, it's God. If it's bad, it's the devil. Anything bad you're facing right now is not God trying to teach you something. It's the devil trying to destroy you. Sometimes we feel like we should just fall apart and suffer like the world suffers and that we should just indulge in the emotions associated with challenging circumstances.
Paul writes the book of Philippians from prison and it's as most joyful book he's written. Some scholars say that that prison was in the middle of a sewerage works and that he was probably knee high or waist high in human dung. He's writing and he's saying, rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4) – that's powerful. It doesn't matter what your circumstances are like, it doesn't matter what you're going through because you can rejoice in the Lord, always and at any time. There's always a reason to rejoice in God. Your circumstances might not be worse rejoicing in, but the Lord is always worth rejoicing in. Amen! Philippians 4:6 says, “be careful for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” We can experience the peace of God, this peace of God which is supernatural (it doesn't make sense).
We often feel that with bad circumstances we should not have peace, that we should be anxious and full of fear, but we can have perfect peace, no matter what! How can we have perfect peace like that? Because of our fellowship with God. Philippians 4:6 says, “be careful for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication…” and supplication is talking about relationship with God; talking to God; prayer! When we're going through rough times, we shouldn't be whining and complaining in pray to God. We should just be talking to God. We should be bringing our requests, making them known unto God because he cares and is interested. We don't just come and pray prayers like, “Oh God, I don't know what I'm going to do. Oh God, this challenging circumstance. Oh God, I think I'm going to die. Oh God, the doctor said, this or that!” Rather you should pray with thanksgiving by not focusing on the lack you are experiencing but focus in on the abundant supply you have in Christ. Pray saying, “You know the situation, Father, but I thank you that you are faithful and your word is true” You have to add thanksgiving in for your prayer to be worthwhile. Say something like, “Thank you God, that you are faithful and your word is true. I thank you that this will not overcome me. I will overcome it because I am more than an overcomer are more than a conqueror through Christ!” Declare the word and give thanks to God. And that's when the peace of God, the supernatural peace, which doesn't make sense, starts to infiltrate your heart.
Scripture goes further in verse eight and it says, “finally brethren, whatsoever things are true whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely whatsoever things are of good report. If there be any virtue, if any praise, think on these things.” If you limit your thinking just to that list, then you will never be depressed. And you might be saying, “but you don't understand my situation!” Well I'm sure that I don't understand, but one thing I do understand is that if you just take the word at its face value and believe it, it'll work for you. Paul is writing here under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and he says, “think about these good things and if you only think about these good things you are going to have perfect peace.” If you want perfect peace then this is what you need to think about. The Passion Translation puts it like this, Philippians 4:4, be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life” that means even in the difficult seasons you need to have joyous celebration, “Let joy overflow for you are United with the anointed one.” Don't think about how bad things are but think about you're union with Jesus. Philippians 4:6 says, “don't be pulled off in different directions or worried about a thing. Be Saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith fold requests before God with all overflowing gratitude. “Tell him every detail of your life”, that's talking about telling him every detail of your life with faith-filled requests, with overflowing gratitude, not just whining and griping and complaining! Then it goes on in Philippians 4:8, and it says “keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that as authentic and real honorable, admirable, beautiful, respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind and fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God. Praising him always.” If you limit your thinking to those things you'll never be depressed even in a challenging circumstance.
There's always things that you can think about that are negative. Choose not to think on those things. Choose to think on things that are pure, lovely of good report. Choose to think about the things which God is doing, not the things the devil is doing. Choose to think about the good things that are happening in your life, or even the good things that are happening in the spiritual realm. Don't dwell on the negative things. Dwell on the positive things. Dwelling on something is a form of meditation. If you give negative thoughts and negative circumstance special attention, it will become a strong hold in your heart and you don't want the fruitfulness of that stronghold. So rather choose to focus your heart, your mind and attention on the right things, and you will start to experience the emotions that come from that!