People often ask me. I usually ride the bandwagon, replying with the classic response. “Good.”
I’m typically not as good as I pretend to be — well, actually, it depends on the definition of “good.” What does it mean to be “good?”
If being “good” means everything in my life is good, then I’m a liar. My life isn’t always easy. I struggle. I sin. I face difficulties, battles, trials, and temptations. But when someone asks me how I am, my natural instinct is to consider my circumstances.
In other words, maybe I am a liar. Maybe I tell people I’m good when I’m really not — unless, of course, I have the wrong definition of “good.”
Maybe “good” is less about my circumstances and more about my connection. More specifically, my connection to Jesus.
Jesus says, “‘Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing’” (John 15:4-5 NKJV).
Nothing compares to having a strong connection with Jesus. When you’re connected to Jesus, circumstances have no business dictating your life. Times may be tough. Pain may be present. Anxiety may consume you. Your circumstances may look terrible. But when you’re connected to Jesus, you’re good.
Jesus promises, “‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid’” (John 14:27 NKJV).
Just ask Paul. I see his chains. I smell his dirty clothes. I hear his groans. I feel his pain. Visualize his misery. He’s in jail. I imagine someone approaching him with a question, “How are you, Paul?”
All common sense says that Paul is anything but good. But his letter to the Philippians speaks otherwise. You see, Paul writes the most joyful book in the Bible while suffering in jail.
I encourage you to read the book of Philippians. After reading it myself, I believe Paul reveals the secret to his joy — focusing on God and others.
At the beginning, Paul writes, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy” (1:3-4 NKJV).
Later, he says, “But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice” (1:18 NLT).
While contemplating life and death, Paul writes, “But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith” (1:24-25 NLT).
Paul is focused on the Gospel message and the Philippian church. Not his circumstances. Therefore, Paul is joyful.
Here’s the epitome of his letter: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (4:4-7 NKJV).
Go ahead. Ask Paul the question — yeah, while he suffers in jail. “How are you, Paul?”
I believe his response, in today’s language, is the unexpected. “Good.”
His circumstances speak otherwise, but his connection is solid. Paul is connected to the Vine. Paul is connected to God. Paul is connected to the peace of Jesus. Because of this, he is good.
I certainly don’t intend to downplay or ignore the circumstances we all face. Life is hard. Trials. Tribulations. Temptations. Hurts. They still come. But here’s my message: circumstances need not define your joy. Only a connection with God should do that.
Do you desire Paul’s joy? Do you desire the peace that passes all understanding? If so, seek Jesus more. Strengthen your connection with Him by surrendering more of yourself to His control.
Isaiah Pauley is a 2018 graduate of Wahama High School. He can be followed at www.isaiahpauley.com, or on Facebook at Isaiah Pauley Page.