One month after my husband graduated seminary, I got the worst phone call of my life… my brother, my only sibling, had committed suicide. I quickly hopped on a plane to Florida to be with my sister in law and the four young children he left behind.
So many questions ran through my mind…and I turned to God for strength. I knew I couldn’t change the situation but I asked God… what can I do to glorify you in this awful mess? God reminded me to be the light of Christ, and no matter what, He was there to be with our family. The last two years since that day, I have tried to show my family that no matter what we face in life, God wants us to always remember that all things work together for His good, to those that love Him, and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
As I have looked back on that part of my journey, I know why God had me rooted in the book of Philippians at the time… God wanted to remind me how to count all trials and tribulations in my life as pure joy. The book of Philippians helped me to understand that having the joy of the Lord is so important and vital to our faith walk because God’s Joy is our strength and power.
Both the Apostle Paul and James tell us when we are enduring trials count it all as joy… because when our faith is tested, our endurance grows, and when it fully develops we will be strong in the Lord and ready for the things life throws at us. The pursuit of deepening our relationship with God is continual because our world and our surroundings are constantly changing and little by little we increase the reflection of Christ in our lives.
Living a life of joy is a choice. You want to know the truth of how I got through… two important factors…
…with the help of some awesome ladies whose husbands were also in seminary with us… ladies who became my friends, ladies who are my sisters in Christ.
…and because deep down in my heart I have chosen to wholeheartedly trust that God’s promises are true…He loves me, He died for me, he doesn’t want me to be perfect but to be faithful and obedient, he wants me to share His love with the people I encounter, he wants the joy of the Lord to be my strength, and he wants me to always focus on Him. Sometimes it is hard to count your life as joy, I still struggle with it, and that is when I cling to God even more… so he can help me to find joy in the suffering.
I cling to Philippians 1: 9-11… “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation- the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ- for this will bring much glory and praise to God”.
God says that he has set before us both life and death. I say choose life. Live your life as God intended, counting it all as joy. Listen to His voice and hold fast to Him.
God loves you and so do I,
I’m sorry for the loss of your brother in such an unexpected and sad way. But our Father’s heart must be so warmed by the way you have been determined to glorify Him in this and all things. We are His joy just as He is ours.
Thank you Nancy for your kind words!
I’ve always loved Philippians, which has been called the joy epistle. I appreciate your sharing what it meant to you at a very difficult time. God guides us to just the scripture we need.
Yes Joan He certainly does!
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Thanks J. Christian for including my blog post Learning to Count it all Joy! I enjoy reading some of the articles you post as well! Leslie Winston
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