It’s been a Bad Day…So that…

Team of climbers in danger.

The apostle Paul knew what it was like to have a bad day.

Shipwrecked, thrown in prison, flogged, beaten, stoned, in danger from people, in danger from nature, hungry, thirsty, cold, weak…

You can read about his perils in 2 Corinthians 11:23-33.

Paul learned something about his perils. His most profound statement in all of the epistles rests in the next chapter following the documentation of his harsh circumstances. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 says this:

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When I am weak, then I am strong, he says.

Hmmmm.

Keep this in mind as we progress.

This wasn’t new for Paul. He writes of his perils in 1 Corinthians as well. Paul really knew what it was like to have a bad day. And again, he gives God glory. He declares that his perils taught him how to rely on God more.

 “For we do not want you to be unaware brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despised of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.

But that was to make ourselves rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us again.” – 1 Corinthians 1:8-10

Even though Paul had a bad day – a lot of them actually – he always sees the good God is doing.

Seeing the good God is doing on your bad day can seem quite daunting at times.

I know it is for me.

Confusion, despair, self-pity, anger, can be some of the perspectives I absorb on a bad day. It’s easy to be that way too. And the devil capitalizes on that. The devil wants us to settle into a negative state of mind on a bad day. We can’t see the good God is doing in our midst through the clouds of negativity.

Seeing that Paul demonstrates an increasingly encouraging response to his bad days as we read through the New Testament epistles, always finding the good God is doing in his midst, I think we need to learn a little more about what Paul is doing.

Let’s take a look at Philippians… a letter the apostle Paul wrote while in prison.

Talk about a bad day! Or a bad sequence of days really. A bad season of life. But the reader would never say that’s the case while reading Philippians.

Ironically, Paul is extremely joyful and positive in every word he writes in this epistle.

Paul expresses a tone of rejoicing, thankfulness, excitement, love, compassion for others…such unusual characteristics from someone thrown in prison unjustly and unfairly.

Remember Paul’s idea of when I am weak, then I am strong – this idea permeates Philippians as we read about how Paul sees every single that happens to Him as a part of God’s purposes.

Paul starts off Philippians with thankfulness in chapter 1 verse 3: “I thank my God in every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy…”

Joy!?

Paul talks about praying with joy here… I just don’t get it.

He’s stuck in prison and the very first thing he writes is about praying with joy?

Maybe praying with confusion would sound a little more reasonable…praying with anger…bitterness…a chip on his shoulder…regret…loneliness…frustration…

But Paul prays with joy. It’s one of the first phrases penned.

Paul goes on to explain in chapter 1 verse 12-13 how his imprisonment is serving to “advance the gospel so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.”

Wow he is so optimistic and faithful to the Lord that he sees his suffering through the lens of God’s purpose. Shouldn’t he be angered and resentful towards the hand he has been dealt? The unfair circumstances? The unjust treatment? The Lord allowing it? Not helping him at all? But Paul just overflows with a tone of happiness throughout this entire book! It’s just mind-blowing to me!

It seems that Paul’s previous perils spoken of in 1st and 2nd Corinthians have developed his trust in God despite his circumstances so that his experience in prison now recorded in Philippians is nothing new to Paul – rather it’s just another useful tool in that hands of God to bring him closer to Christ and see others saved.

What I’m finding is that Paul had a “so that” mentality.

In everything he writes.

In everything he experiences.

Yeah… a “SO THAT” mentality.

Paul says this phrase over and over again in Philippians.

We saw “so that” in the verse above (1:13).

“So that” is used in this epistle 6 times by Paul, “that you may” is used 2 times, and “that I may” is used 2 times.

10 times, Paul uses this transitory/explanatory phrasing to point towards the purpose of either an occurrence or an action. Paul will make a statement concerning 1) reality (what is happening) and then utilize a 2) transitory/explanatory phrase of “so that/that I may/that you may” (why its’ happening) in order to 3) point towards God’s purpose (what God wants to happen). In other words, This is happening so that this will happen according to God’s will is the model of his verbal explanation. And it makes so much sense!

For example, let’s take a look at Philippians 3:8-11:

*The initial statement concerning reality will be bolded.

*The transitory/explanatory phrase will be bolded and italicized.

*God’s purpose through it will be bolded, italicized and underlined.

“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 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

No wonder Paul is so joyful amidst persecution!

Dang!

I want you to notice how many bolded phrases there are in comparison to the italicized/bolded and bolded, italicized, underlined phrases in Phillipians 3:8-11.

How many bolded phrases did you find?

One.

Yes, one!

Paul has 1 statement concerning reality. Yet 4 transitory/explanatory phrases pointing towards 6 phrases concerning God’s purpose in it!!!

Paul has 6 times more reasons to be joyful than his 1 suffering!

His suffering is pretty large, considering he has “suffered the loss” of all things. All things is a lot! Paul could have listed all the things he had lost to make it more dramatic and look greater than his reasons for joy. But Paul would never do that because he is a “so that” person.

Paul cares more about the “so that” than the reality of his circumstances.

Paul lists all the many purposes that God is revealing to him through his 1 suffering because he gives more weight to God’s purpose than to His own suffering. And this is extremely encouraging and inspiring to me.

What would happen if we gave more weight to God’s purposes than our own circumstances?

I guarantee we would absorb joy and so overflow with it.

I guarantee it would brighten our bad days.

Paul sees his bad days and bad circumstances as ingredients for what God’s creating in the earth to accomplish salvation and redemption. So he remains joyful. I love this.

Again, remember what he said in 2 Corinthians 12 – when I am weak, then I am strong – I think Paul is really onto something here.

We need a “so that” mentality.

Like Paul.

A “so that” mentality.

We need a “so that” mentality that turns our worst days into reasons to glorify God.

Our weakness makes us strong.

Strong in the Lord.

We experience pain.

So that we may empathize with others.

Weakness turns into strength.

We fail.

So that we may rely wholly upon the Lord.

Weakness turns into strength.

We get hurt.

So that we may experience the afflictions of Christ and have fellowship with Him in His sufferings.

Weakness turns into strength.

We lose.

So that Christ can be victorious in us.

Weakness turns into strength.

We have a bad day.

So that Christ’s sufficiency can be made real in our soul.

Weakness turns into strength.

Weakness turns into strength.

Weakness turns into strength.

Yes.

Weakness turns into strength.

Let your bad day be fuel that catalyzes your weakness turning into strength!!!

However, we need to understand this correctly…It’s not that God makes bad things happen to you so that this weakness-into-strength-conversion can take place.

No!!

That’s the wrong perspective.

God is not trying to harm you. Look at it conversely…

Something bad happens to you. Period. It’s done. And now, you can learn to say “so that…” after-the-fact. You can let this already inevitable weakness be turned into strength after-the-fact.

You and I having a bad day is inevitable.

It’s going to happen eventually, 100% guaranteed.

You can’t avoid bad things or bad days in this broken world. You just can’t. And that’s okay.

So…are you going to let those bad days and/or bad things become useful in God’s hand so that He can make something good come out of it? Or aren’t you?

Are you going to let him convert your weakness into strength? Or aren’t you?

Many bad days have already come and gone in your life. How are you going to handle a bad day from here on out?

It’s your decision.

Your perspective.

Your mentality.

Your peace to choose.

Your joy to fight for.

Don’t give up!

Don’t let a bad day fuel despair…

I’ve done that before. I’ve let 1 bad day turn into a whole bad week… and it doesn’t lead you anywhere but into more despair.

Learn to say “so that” to your bad day…to your bad circumstance.

Fight for joy!

Fight for peace!

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice,” says Paul in Philippians 4:4.

Let your bad day be offered up to the God who knows how to make beautiful things from even the most hopeless circumstances.

So that you may be filled with joy!

So that you may be content in Christ!

So that you may be a light to someone else who needs it!

So that

So that

May we never run out of “so that” reasons to praise God’s power and purposes.

I pray that you and I would learn to say “so that” to every bad day. I pray that you and I would let God have our weaknesses so that He can convert them into strength by His power, mercy and grace. I pray we would find joy in this! Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus. May we learn to say “so that” to our bad days, knowing there is a purposeful reason on the other side. And You will redeem us from every war waged against us. You are surely working for the good of those who love you. We praise You.

 

 

“holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

-Philippians 2:16-

Questions for Today:

  • Why is Paul so joyful on really bad days?
  • What does Paul mean by when I am weak, then I am strong?
  • How many times does Paul use the phrase “so that/that I may/that you may” in the letter to the Philippians?
  • How does this point to God’s purposes?
  • What is a “so that” mentality?
  • Why do I need a “so that” mentality to experience joy on a bad day?

“For A Moment” by Elevation Worship

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