"Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches." (2 Corinthians 11:24-28)
So, how was your day?
Paul had some really bad experiences happen to him, wouldn't you say? However, you'll notice he didn't stay there. He acknowledged them, but he didn't stay there. It would have been very easy for Paul to have wrapped himself in the misery of past experiences. I would have been tempted to. Yet Paul looked beyond that. In fact, in Philippians 4:8 he said this:
"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ."
Are we more focused on what has happened in the past or who holds our future?
Too often we wrap ourselves up in our bad experiences and wear them around like a badge of honor. People try to talk to us and we unpack our misery and display it like items at a gift shop. "Hey, look what so and so did to me!" or "Listen to this; you won't believe how this person spoke to me!"
Paul wrote many of the letters we read in the New Testament while sitting in jail!
Can we be content even when things DON'T go our way? (Philippians 4:11-13)
I am not saying we can't talk about our bad experiences. We have to be real. We can be honest about the bad stuff. However, we should be more focused on the LIVING GOD!
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
I want to be honest. I have a hard time not grumbling when things don't go my way. It's not easy. My natural tendency is to mutter and complain when bad stuff happens. I have to literally choose to rejoice. When I do, I find my mind focusing again on Christ and not the circumstances.
What kind of choice are you making?