gipsy child smiling

Sometimes life is a struggle. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do – things that are painful or unfulfilling. Sometimes we have to endure things that are painful or unfulfilling. Sometimes we have to overcome adversity, difficulty, and pain. Sometimes life is a struggle.

In those times it’s easy to lose focus – to forget why we’re struggling. Or to lose heart in working towards a goal. Sometimes life is so painful it just takes our breath away and we just can’t seem to find any answers or to move on.

Pain, difficulty, and adversity are part of life. I sometimes think I understand why they are but as I get older I understand more and more that I understand very little. That said, I do know this much – there are struggles in life and there is a secret to triumphing over pain, adversity, and difficulty.

Think about your life – are there any difficult times right now? Are there any that you remember?

Others have found the secret

The apostle Paul, a man who certainly knew adversity writes, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philipians 4:12, emphasis added). What was this secret?

Focus on the goal

Jesus was able to endure terrible torture, being obedient to God the Father even to death on a cross for one simple reason: he understood the goal – the joy that was set before him (Hebrews 12:2)

Recognize the situation

I think we can find Paul’s answer just a few verses before in his instructions to the Philipian church:

Philipans 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Paul was able to rejoice in the Lord – to be joyful – because he understood that God was near. I don’t think for a minute that Paul was asking the Philipan church to make themselves say rejoicing things to convince themselves (or to convince God) that everything was going to be OK. Rather, he was pointing out that God was there with them and that they could rejoice that he was present in their lives in the middle of everything.

Control your thinking

Philipians 4:8,9
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Here’s the secret

Here’s the secret of the ages plainly revealed throughout history – we can overcome adversity when we are able to delight in God and in the things of God in and through every situation, knowing that he is with us and we will be with him.

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