Considering all that Paul went through in his life, you would have understood if he had grumbled and complained about all that he went through for the sake of the gospel.
Maybe in times of weakness he did. But according to his letters and every story you ever read of him, he never did that. Instead, he rejoiced.
Joy is funny that way. It is totally unrelated to the circumstances you are in. Rather, it is dependent on your relationship with God and is something wells up within you despite your circumstances.
You see that in Acts 16 when Paul and Silas were tossed into prison in Philippi. What was their response as they were fastened in stocks, backs sore from being beaten by whips? They sang hymns. They prayed.
And here in Rome, Paul was doing the same kind of thing. Here he is being guarded by the imperial guard, and it had to be totally different experience for these guards as they came in for their shifts. In most cases, they probably heard the silence of despair, or perhaps moaning or complaining. But when they came in for their shift to guard Paul, he’s greeting them with smiles, singing hymns, and sharing the gospel with them. As a result, soon every guard knew this was no ordinary prisoner, and some of them may have even become Christians.
In addition, because of Paul’s imprisonment and his boldness in preaching the gospel even from there, it caused the other Christians to become bolder in preaching the gospel. For a number of them, perhaps they saw Paul and thought, “One of God’s apostles is down. I need to pick up some of the slack and do what I can.”
Others, unfortunately, had less pure motives according to Paul. Perhaps they thought to “steal” some of Paul’s sheep while he was out of action.
But through it all, Paul rejoiced because the gospel was spreading despite all Satan’s efforts to keep it contained.
Think for a minute, though. How would things have been if Paul had instead chosen to grumble and complain? To throw a pity party?
It probably would have tossed him into a downward spiral that would not only have discouraged him, but those he had ministered to.
But because he rejoiced, it allowed him to rise above his circumstances to the glory of God.
How about you? What circumstances are you going through? Do you like Paul choose to rejoice in spite of the bad circumstances you are in? Or do you throw a pity party?
One choice lifts us above our circumstances to God’s glory. The other leads to slogging in the mud of despair. Which will you choose?