If you want to laugh and get a new perspective on life, spend 15 or so minutes talking with a child. Once while talking with a five year old, he informed me, out of the blue, that he was 'ticklish in my armpips'. I responded that many people, including myself, are ticklish and yes, armpips are often one of the more ticklish places on the body. Of course it was the first time I'd heard arm pits referred to in quite that unique way. I guess, I could say it tickled my funny bone...
As I begin a study of Paul's letter to the Philippians, I am struck by his joyful note despite his unhappy circumstances. After all, at the time of writing the letter, Paul is under house arrest in Rome. I meditate on this a minute and let the facts sink in. Paul is living in a time of great persecution. He knows that his very life is in danger yet he uses the word joy in his letter 16 times. Is Paul perhaps the original Pollyana? Is he crazy? isn't this an amazing, perhaps insane perspective given his circumstances?
Certainly Paul stands tall as a role model for all of us during tough times. When we think of modern day hardships, mounting bills, lost jobs, stressful family situations don't they pale in comparison to Paul's circumstances? As Rick Warren says in his book, The Purpose of Christmas, "most people in the world would love to have our (the western world's) troubles." How can we benefit from Paul's example in troubled times? Here's my suggestions:
Keep our circumstances in perspective. This doesn't mean think about how much worse things could be. This means focus on the good still in our life. Supportive family? Caring church family? God's support through His word and prayer?
Maintain those areas in your life where things are going well through regular positive contributions. Lost your job? Set up a schedule to maintain your physical health through exercise and healthy diet. A mountain of debt? Continue to maintain a supportive caring relationship with your spouse through regular time spent together.
Set a goal to correct the problem and do something everyday to move toward that goal. Lost your job? Develop a plan and spend time each day contacting possible prospects. Polish your resume. Listen to or read helpful positive articles and books on your situation. Lost in debt? Make a budget. Take on an extra part-time job.
When we are focused on God's positive plan for us through his word and prayer, making regular contributions for success in all areas of our life and taking action steps to reach our goal, we too can say with Paul, "I pray with joy... being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:3-6