Summary: One of the most consistent and nagging questions we encounter in our life is the question, "Why?" Almost no other question has us bothered, frustrated, angry or frightened than the question, "Why?"
Why Be Joyful?
I. One of the most consistent and nagging questions we encounter in our life is the question, "Why?" Almost no other question has us bothered, frustrated, angry or frightened than the question, "Why?"
A. You remember when we’re children, one of the first questions that come out of our mouths as soon as we gain the power of speech is "Why?"
1. "Daddy, why is the sky blue?" "Mommy, why is the grass green?" "Why do I have to eat my spinach?" "Why do I have to clean up my room?" "Why do people hate each other?" "Mommy, why are you and daddy always fighting?"
2. We generally laid most of these questions on our parents, and they tried to answer our questions the best they could, before saying, "I don’t know," or "Because I said so."
a. I used to think that last answer was unfair. I thought that you should always explain to the child what the reasons are. Then one day, I got a niece.
(1) After being hit with a dozen questions after I asked her to do something, I understood why that was a sufficient answer.
b. I used to drive my mother crazy with asking the question, "Why?" She always managed to give an answer, right or wrong, that satisfied my curiosity, for the moment.
B. When we became adults, even though we gained more knowledge in many things, we still struggle with that one question, "Why?" The only difference, is our questions became more complex, more complicated, more frustrating.
1. "Why doesn’t somebody do something about this?" "Why are these taxes so high?" "Why aren’t I getting paid as much as this person?" "Why don’t we get along?" "Why don’t we ever talk anymore?" "Why don’t you love me anymore?" "Why is it we don’t love each other anymore?"
2. Unlike when we were kids, we can’t come to our parents to get all the answers, and we’re more hard pressed to get them. We even come before the gates of heaven to demand answers from the Lord.
a. "God, if you’re so powerful, why did you let my mother die?" "Why is there so much pain?" "Why does the evil prosper, while the righteous suffer?" Why, why, why? And the answers are slow in coming.
b. I believe the day will come when God will answer all our questions. The question is, why can’t we get the answers now?
C. In studying the text for this message, I myself was pressed to ask the question, "Why?" This text goes against everything we’ve been taught on how to handle life.
1. Why I am I supposed to rejoice when we have no money in the bank? Why am I supposed to be gentle when there’s co-workers after my scalp, and a boss who’s acting like a jerk? Why do I have to be thankful when bills are past due, and they’re threatening to cut off the utilities? And why do I have to be peaceful when the car won’t act right?
2. While I was pondering these questions, the Lord led me to consider the apostle Paul and his dilemma.
II. When Paul wrote this letter, the church city of Philippi in Macedonia was flourishing, becoming a bright witness in that land. The church was doing so well, and made Paul so happy, he called it his "joy and crown." In fact, the theme of this entire book is joy. The interesting thing about this letter was that Paul was in prison when he wrote it; imprisoned and possibly facing execution.
A. Yet, with possibly the end of his life drawing near, all Paul could think of in this letter was joy.
B. I won’t be able to give you the answers to the question, "why?" The Lord didn’t reveal that to me. What he did reveal to me was how and why you can be joyful, regardless of the circumstances.
III. Paul tells us to rejoice in the Lord always (V. 4). He thought so much of this, he repeated himself in the same breath. This means to rejoice in him regardless of our circumstances, whether good or bad.
A. Why, Paul? Why do I need to rejoice all the time, especially when it looks like my world is falling apart? What do I have to rejoice about? I’ll give you three reasons why you should rejoice.
1. Because of what he has done. If you can’t think of anything to rejoice about, perhaps you should reflect on what the Lord has brought you through, and where he’s taken you from.
a. Next time we see someone who’s down on his luck, a man who’s dying for just one more drink, or one more fix, that woman who endures an existence of pursuing love in all the wrong places, or remember that person who’s angry at everyone and everything, we should fall on our knees and thank God, because once upon a time, that was us!