Picture a dark night in the coolness of a Roman prison. A stooped figure dictates to a young man who is feverishly writing. The thoughts come freely and the words easily as the older man opens his heart. Paul, the Apostle, is sending a personal greeting and words of instruction to the Christians at Philippi.
A few months later and 800 miles away, an unusually large group of Jesus’ followers gathers to hear a letter read. The correspondence has the authority of Scripture. The Philippian believers welcome the Word of God.
The book of Philippians has some form of the word “joy” 19 times in 104 verses. Even though Paul was facing death there was joy in the jailhouse. This is an inexplicable contradiction that is possible because of Christ in us. Although the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, at times reality crashes in on us.
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered our world as nothing else in our lifetimes. Racial tensions claim our attention. Financial uncertainty causes us concern. Political hostilities and social media outrage stir the pot. Happiness is elusive.
Happiness depends on circumstances. Joy is different. Joy comes from a faith walk with Jesus as Lord. As the apostle Paul challenged the Philippians to draw near to Jesus for their joy, we can experience the same power of joy. We need strength to face the difficulties of the day.
Even in the ministry we can grow stale in our fellowship with the Lord. Now is the time to find the power we need by depending on the indwelling Holy Spirit. Be reminded of the presence of the Lord in your life. King David needed a spiritual refreshing. His prayer is recorded in Psalm 51:12: “Restore the joy of your salvation to me…”
As ministers of the gospel we can get drained by all of the demands placed on us. Go back to the well and drink deeply. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
These words of encouragement come to you as a part of an initiative from the COVID-19 Task Force for church leaders to be “together for the unfinished task” during this time of uncertainty.