Exchange Your 'Why' For 'What'

“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel”

Philippians 1:12

Could you use a little more joy in your life but aren’t sure how to go about it? You might start by examining the life of someone whose life exudes joy. In the Bible there is one man who became known as the apostle of joy, the apostle Paul. The book of Philippians is one of the apostle Paul’s ‘prison epistles’ that he wrote while incarcerated for loving God and loving people, wanting everyone he came in contact with to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. One of the things that makes the book of Philippians such an amazing testimony is the fact that 19 times in the 104 verses that make up the 4 chapters of the book is the word ‘joy’ or ‘rejoice’. And remember, the apostle Paul is in prison when he is writing about joy.

From reading Paul’s words you realize that there is a huge difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is determined most often by our happenings, whatever things are going on in our lives at any particular moment in time. That means our happiness is subject to change as our circumstances change. Joy on the other hand comes from within, from God Himself and is found in those things that cannot change. Things like God’s love for us, His forgiveness, His justification, His salvation, His sovereignty, and the list goes on and on.

How could one man have so much joy who the Bible teaches us was subjected to such harsh circumstances as 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 describes, “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.” Paul experienced joy because he learned to exchange the ‘why’ for the ‘what’.

The apostle Paul’s life was filled with joy in the midst of some of life’s most challenging circumstances for the simple fact he never asked ‘why’ is this happening to me but rather, ‘what’ is it that God wanted him to see and or ‘what’ was it that God would have the apostle Paul to do. Thats the secret if there is one to experiencing more joy in our lives too. Don’t ask ‘why’ but rather exchange your ‘why’ for ‘what’. When you realize like the apostle Paul that God is in everything you are going through in this life and that God is good as are His plans, you can rest assured that in the end whatever it is you are going through will work out for both God’s glory and your good too. Thats why Paul could write from prison, “that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel”

Do you want more joy in your life? Try exchanging your ‘why’ is this happening to me for ‘what’ is it that you want me to do? The apostle Paul never wondered if God was with Him, he knew that He was and is why Paul could leave the ‘why’ to God and focus instead on the ‘what’. If it worked for the apostle Paul it can work for me and you! After all, it was God Himself who said…

… “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Hebrews 13:5–6


Michael Osthimer





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