Have you ever faces a hunger or thirst so strong to the point that even a piece of bread or a sip of water would taste like the most amazing meal? There’s something about going without food or water for a period, that increases the satisfaction of those things when you do receive them. The reverse is also true. If you always have an abundance of wonderful tasting food and drink, you can become complacent in those choices and even the good stuff will eventually no longer satisfy.
The same is true in other areas of life as well. This is why it is good and healthy to experience various “droughts” in life. Periods of without, helps you to appreciate the periods of with that much more. As Paul is closing out his letter to the Philippians, he discusses this. “…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Phil 4:11b-12)
Now there is no perfect situation that gives you the perfect balance between reliance upon the Lord and ability to praise Him completely. For there are people in low places that see no reason for praise and people in low places that turn fully to His strength. There are also people in high points of their life that give Him the glory and people in high points that have no need for a Lord (so they think). So it is not the situation that matters, but the object of your attention that matters.
If your circumstances (be it a storm or a paradise) is where your attention is, then your joy will be fully dependent upon your circumstances. Your mood, attitude and joy will rise and fall with the times you find yourself in. However, if your attention is on the Lord in all circumstances (storm or paradise), then your joy will always be complete.
Jesus demonstrated this well when He called Peter out onto the waves. In the midst of a storm on the lake, the disciples see Jesus walking on the water towards them and they feared it was a ghost. “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt 14:27-31)
When Peter’s eyes were on Jesus, he could walk on water. But as soon as his attention turned to the effects of the storm, he began to sink. This is a visual of the exact thing that Paul ends the first passage we started with. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)
As we faces those storms, and turn to Him for strength, we will rise up out of the circumstances. I’m not saying the circumstances will even change (at least not immediately). But with His help, we can rise above the circumstances and find our joy in Him. Then when we do see a calm eventually, it will be even that much more beautiful.
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