Joy and Thanksgiving

Philippians is a book of joy. The key verse of the book is Philippians 4:4. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” In addition, throughout the book, joy is the theme. The Greek word for joy is used 9 times and various related words (with prefixes, etc.) are used approximately another 7 times.

There seems to be a connection between joy and thanksgiving. Beginning in Philippians 4:6, we read:

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

What a great formula for life! Joy, accompanied by prayer with thanksgiving, gives way to peace—the kind of peace that only Christ can give.

The Apostle Paul’s life is “Exhibit A” on this life of joy, thanksgiving, and peace. Paul had a remarkable outlook on life. Consider his circumstances as he wrote Philippians. He is under house arrest.

But his present circumstances were not the only threat to his joy, thanksgiving, and peace. Here’s what he wrote to the Corinthians.

Are they servants of Christ?
I’m talking like a madman—I’m a better one:
with far more labors,
many more imprisonments,
far worse beatings, near death many times.
24 Five times I received 39 lashes from Jews.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods by the Romans.
Once I was stoned by my enemies.
Three times I was shipwrecked.
I have spent a night and a day
in the open sea.
26 On frequent journeys, I faced
dangers from rivers,
dangers from robbers,
dangers from my own people,
dangers from the Gentiles,
dangers in the city,
dangers in the open country,
dangers on the sea,
and dangers among false brothers;
27 labor and hardship,
many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst,
often without food, cold, and lacking clothing.
28 Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my care for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)

So from Paul’s testimony, we can draw several conclusions about joy.

1. Joy is not dependent on our circumstances.
2. Joy is a choice.
3. Joy is a gift from God.
4. Joy, like peace and hope, is ultimately found in a relationship with Jesus.

Choose today to be a person of joy, and the thanksgiving that accompanies, not just for Thanksgiving Day, but every day.