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Focus on Your Purpose, Not the Problem
By Rick Warren

“If by continuing to live I can do more worthwhile work, then I am not sure which I should choose. I am pulled in two directions. I want very much to leave this life and be with Christ, which is a far better thing; but for your sake it is much more important that I remain alive. I am sure of this, and so I know that I will stay. I will stay on with you all, to add to your progress and joy in the faith.” Philippians 1:22-25 (GNT)

When you stay focused on your purpose instead of your problem you can have joy, even when life seems to be falling apart.

Paul is an old man when he is in prison in Rome. He is a long way from home. He is awaiting execution. Everything has been taken from him—his friends, his freedom, his ministry, and even his privacy, with a guard chained to him 24 hours a day. It isn’t exactly a happy time for Paul. 

But there is one thing they could not take away from Paul: his purpose. Paul makes the choice to stay focused on his purpose, even when he has lost everything else. What is his purpose? Serving God by serving others.

Paul says in Philippians 1:22-25, “If by continuing to live I can do more worthwhile work, then I am not sure which I should choose. I am pulled in two directions. I want very much to leave this life and be with Christ, which is a far better thing; but for your sake it is much more important that I remain alive. I am sure of this, and so I know that I will stay. I will stay on with you all, to add to your progress and joy in the faith” (GNT).

I’ll never forget reading Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist who was taken to one of the death camps in Nazi Germany. All of his family and friends were gassed and murdered. He writes in his book about one day when he stood in front of the Gestapo, stark naked. They’d taken away the prisoners’ clothes and even Frankl’s wedding ring. As he stood there with nothing at all, he suddenly realized there was one thing the Nazis could not take away from him: his choice in how he would respond.

You cannot totally control what other people do to you. You cannot control what other people do around you. But you can control how you respond.

Choose to serve others, even when you are hurting. Choose to forgive. Choose to focus on God’s promises and not your circumstances. Those are the kind of choices that lead to greater faith. Then, your faith will produce greater joy.

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This devotional © 2018 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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