How to Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay

Josiah Jones // Nov 17, 2020

What you think about has the power to make or break your contentment. The problem is we allow our happiness to be determined by our happenings, which leaves us wanting more. In this message, we learn from Philippians 4 how to be okay when things are not okay. 

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Well, welcome to The Porch! It's great to be with you guys tonight. Let's go! Come on! It's Porch day! Come on, y'all! If you're watching with us online, welcome, wherever you're watching. For our Porch.Live locations out there: Houston; El Paso; Boise, Idaho; Balaton, Minnesota; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Oklahoma City, wherever you're watching, we are so glad that you tuned in with us tonight.

My name is Josiah. I have the privilege of serving on staff here at The Porch. I get to oversee our volunteer leaders. Listen, if you're ready… If you want to go hard after Jesus, you want to change the world? I encourage you to come find me tonight at the front of the stage. Or you can just go back to your 8-5 and just be average.

Oh man, that just hurt, and I just offended everybody in the room who has 8-5 jobs. Listen, I'm playing. I'm playing, but for real, if you're ready to go all in with Jesus and you're looking for a place to serve, I would love to talk with you tonight. As we get going and I'd like to share with y'all this meme going around. I'm sure you've heard it. It's this meme, "How It Started vs. How It's Going."

I've been off the grid for a few months, mainly because of what I'm about to talk about tonight. So I haven't really been on social media, but as I was preparing for this talk, some friends of mine showed me this meme and showed me what was happening. So I just thought I'd share with you my top five. Here we go.

Here are my favorites. Lunchables… Man, I don't know what you're talking about. Lunchables for life, baby! Come on! Until the day I die, I'm still on that train. Next one? Ahh. Listen, that's just funny because some of it's true, right? Some of it's true. Maybe it's because your name is Muhammad Ali, right? Next one. Oh yeah, for my dog moms out there. Come on.

Let's go. Next? Oh, that speaks for itself, right? Too close to home? Someone said, "Woo!" Last one. Here we go. We'll end on this. "Happy 2020," right? 2020. We all know how that's going. Oh, man. By the way, MJ is still the GOAT. Just want to tell you that. Throw it out there. Yes, he is better than LeBron.

All my boys and girls who are Millennials said, "Amen." All you Gen-Zers, the next generation is like, "No, man, it's LeBron." Listen, but really, 2020 has been a year, right? It has been a year. As we get closer to the end of 2020, I bet you have your own version of how it started versus how it's going. 2020. Man, it was going to be your year.

You were going to get that ring. You were going to get married. You were going to get that job and then you're working your way up. You were going to get that promotion. Hey, it was the year that you were going to break the addiction, get off the medication. It was going to be the year that you got in the best shape of your life. You were going to shave that 20 pounds of unwanted lbs, right? It was your year, man.

You were going to find true peace. The expectations we hope for in 2020 versus the reality of this year, listen, they're two very different stories. Some of us have never felt more alone. We had job loss. Some of us had to move back in with parents. We are still single and lonely. Our political expectations are not met. When are we getting a vaccine?

When is everything just going to go back to normal? I'm sick of this mask. If that JD comes up here one more time to try to tell me what to do…right? It's like some of you are just fighting it right now. "I'm not wearing a mask. You'll have to kick me out of this place, right?" I just want everything to be normal again.

There are many of right now who would raise our hands. "Bro, you're going to ask me to wear a mask? It's putting more anxiety on me." We're living in fear. Some of you, if you had to be honest, would say, "Hey, I'm not okay. Things are not okay. I'm full of anxiety." You're looking for satisfaction and what the Bible would call contentment.

This word contentment is what I want to talk to us about tonight. It's not a word we use a lot in our day. What do I mean by contentment? I mean this. "Hey, I'm okay. Hey, no matter what happens, not just this superficial, 'I'm good. I'm okay.' No, on a soul level, 'I'm okay.' Single, engaged, or married, I'm okay. Whether I get the job or I get the promotion, I'm okay."

Think about the worst thing that could happen to you. You say, "I'm okay. I'm not distracted. I'm not depressed. I'm not overwhelmed." Really, when I think about that, I even ask myself, "Is that even possible? Is this Jesus thing really the answer? Can I really find that type of peace? Can I really be okay when things are not okay?" That's the question we're answering tonight.

I believe God's Word has something to say about this tonight. I believe God's Word is going to offer hope to a generation and a culture and a world that seems really chaotic right now. We're going to be Philippians, chapter 4. If you're new to the Bible, you just open it to the middle, and Philippians is towards the back. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians.

Here we're going to find Paul, who is the author of Philippians. God, through Paul, is writing this to the church in Philippi. He says or makes a really bold statement. He says, "I found the secret to contentment." It's literally phrased like that in this text. He found the secret to be okay when things are not okay. Anytime I think about, "That secret. What?" I'm listening. My ears are up. I'm ready for whatever he is about to say next.

If you don't know Paul's story, he is a guy who started out in his life persecuting Christians, as far as killing Christians. Then quickly, Jesus arrested his heart, and he went from persecuting Christians to being a hope dealer bent on spreading the good news of Jesus to an unknown world. The church in Philippi was one of the first churches he planted in Europe.

It's a real place with real people. Let's never forget that as we open up God's Word. Listen, the secret isn't found in a pill or a drink. It's not found in something you can buy at NorthPark Mall. Where is it found? I'm glad you asked. Paul says it's found in three things. First, thinking about the right things. Second, practicing your faith. Lastly, before you leave tonight, I hope you see this idea that we should hope in Christ. Let's dive in. Philippians, chapter 4. We'll be in verse 8 starting there.

Paul says this, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Just circle that right there. Circle, think about such things. Paul is sitting in prison right now. He is in a jail cell. Make sure you have the weight of what's happening right now with Paul.

He is in jail for sharing the gospel. Because the Christians are being persecuted right now in this time. He says this. If anyone has the merit or the credit to say this, it's Paul. He is sitting in a cold prison, locked up for sharing his faith. He says, "Hey, if you're going to find the secret to contentment, if you're going to be okay when things are not okay…"

The first spiritual truth is this. Think about the right things. Thinking about the right things will help you be okay when things are not okay. The reason why you're not okay right now is because your mind is drifting. The Bible would say as your mind drifts to all these distractions that you came in with…

As we learned last week here at The Porch through Jennie Allen… I hope you got to listen to that if you weren't here. The Bible would say in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that we are to "…take every thought captive to obey Christ…" In other words, every thought we have should be filtered through this book that I hold in my hand called Scripture, the Bible.

What you think about has the power to make or break your contentment, do you know that? Because the mind is powerful. Discontentment is found in our wanting. When you walked into this place tonight, you had want. There was something you wanted. There is something you're fixated on. What are you thinking about? What's on your mind? Don't answer it out loud. It could be awkward, right? Nervous laughter there.

Some of you came in here with the desire to get married. Listen, contentment isn't the absence of desires. Let me just say that really quick. Contentment is not the absence of desires. Some of you came in here with the desire to get married, which is a good and noble thing. Someone said, "Hey, when you just become content, that's when God will give you your spouse."

That's just a lie. That's just a lie. Now it might be true that God wants to grow you in your contentment and him first, but it's not wrong to desire a spouse. God's Word says marriage is a good thing. Marriage is a gift from God. Paul is saying this because he knows our thinking dictates our living.

This is why he says, "Think about such things that are true, that are noble, that are right, that are pure." He goes on and says your thinking will be fueled by your focus. What are you focusing on tonight? Some of you are anxious because you watch the news and it's filling your mind with anxious thoughts. What if? Fear.

Some of you are discontent because you're always on your Pinterest board. Maybe it's that private Pinterest board that nobody can see, only you know it's there. Do you think you're going to be more okay with the season God has you in or less if you continue to pursue that? Only you can answer that question.

If you struggle with singleness, let me talk to you ladies for just a second. Do you think you're going to be okay continuing to take in episode after episode of The Bachelorette if you're struggling with singleness? Will it help you or is it hurting you? What do you think? If you struggle with insecurity and jealousy and body image, is social media helping you or hurting you?

If you struggle with lust, does following women who post bikini pictures or those really great women and men who are these fitness athletes… Do you think that's helping you or hurting you? If you're trying to get out of debt, you think casually walking through Nordstrom, and you just say, "Hey, I'm just checking things out." But you know this. The more you check things out, the more you're going to have the tendency to want to buy something, and so you do.

So we hop on Instagram and we watch shows to compare our lives to others. We don't struggle with the old school OCD. We struggle with the new school OCD. It's the obsessive comparison disorder where we're just comparing our life to everyone around us, thinking we're going to be satisfied by doing that. You know it's just breeding discontentment.

It's causing us to buy things we shouldn't. It's causing us to look at things we can't touch while touching ourselves in a way that dishonors God. I'm just being real tonight. It causes us to isolate ourselves, thinking we're the only ones who struggle. Come on. When we struggle with comparison, it robs us of creativity and energy and peace.

These are three things that you're going to need to thrive in life. Comparison…compare is sin….comparison. Think of it that way. Yale University said that those who spend less time using social media are more happy and healthy than those who use them often. Listen, I'm not a hater on social media. The problem with me is I like it a little too much.

The problem with me is not that I don't like it. I just like it a little too much, and so it feeds something in me that ends up leaving me empty and unsatisfied with what I do have. Listen, I've never seen anybody skip into my office or never met a friend or young adult for lunch and they're just so happy. I'm like, "Hey, bro, why are you so happy?"

I never heard him say this. "I figured it out, man. I downloaded Instagram. I've been looking at it all day." No, man. That does not happen. I've never heard it, because you know you're feeding something that isn't good. So you go to these places to compare your misery, and all it does is salt your wounds, right? It just spills salt on the wounds.

Yeah, you broke up, and you find yourself following him on social media just to compare the misery. Hopefully, you jump in, and you're like, "Man, I hope he is feeling the way I did." Only to find out he is not. It's just adding more salt on that wound. "Oh, he got the promotion? Gosh, I'm so much better than him. How does she have enough money to go on another vacation? And then to get more new clothes? Come on, where is this coming from?"

What happens is you're just feeding something inside of you that's leading to discontentment. In your season of setbacks, you look at others who are in seasons of advances. You just begin to be marked by more anxiety and depression. So how do we overcome this? Some of you tonight might need to get off social media because every time you jump on, you're fueled with discontentment. You have to walk away from the thing that is feeding your discontentment.

That's why Paul says, "What you think is ultimately going to fuel your focus." I found myself watching sports a few months back. In one hand, I had my phone. I was vacillating between Instagram and texting and email. I just began to have all these things that began to distract me and text messages. Then I read verses like Psalm 101:3. It says, "I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless."

See, I put a lot of worthless things before me at times, not necessarily things that are bad in and of themselves. It was like the Spirit of God said, "Hey Josiah, why don't you take a break? Because you're feeding something inside of you that, quite frankly, you won't ever be satisfied." So I don't know what that looks like for you. Maybe it's the same.

Maybe you need to take a season off from the thing that's feeding your discontentment. Maybe you need to break away from the madness of comparison and get off of all social media for a season. Maybe just take a week off and watch the Spirit of God breathe something fresh into your life.

I was telling a group of guys who I meet with weekly. It's like, "Man, I feel like a weight has been lifted. I'm not tempted like I was to look at things I shouldn't look at and to compare my life with people who, quite frankly, I don't even know. I feel like a weight has been lifted." Paul is saying to be careful what you think about.

Thinking about the right things will lead you to be okay when things are not okay. Your thinking affects your contentment. Not only does he say this, but he says your practice will affect your contentment. He goes on, and he says in verse 9, "What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things…" Look at the promise, Porch. "…and the God of peace will be with you."

Do you know what Christians do when they're not okay? They actually live out their faith. This is what they do. This is what they do in the past and this is what they do in the present. They actually live out their faith. When they come up to places in their life that are just not okay, when they have discontentment, they actually decide to live out their faith.

They wake up and they spend time with God. Let me ask you. Do you think you're going to be okay without putting that discipline of getting in God's Word and hearing what he has to say day in and day out? Do you think you're really going to be okay without putting that into practice? We, as men and women of God, are called to practice the things of Christ.

We're called to read and study Scripture. We're called to get into community. One of the number one things I did after I came to Christ was to change my playground and my playmates and have men who were going to call me up and call me out and say, "God has more for you." Following someone who follows Christ.

In other words, find someone who will mentor you, who will disciple you, who will walk alongside of you, pray and talk to God, confess sin struggles, pursue healing from addictions, walk in love, humility, and kindness, flee sexual immorality and drunkenness, drugs and anything that will take you off course from what God has for you.

Paul says practicing the right things will equal peace. If you don't have peace, maybe it's because you're not practicing the right things or you have wrong practice. I remember several years ago, I was dating a girl. I walked into the relationship with all the right intentions. Quickly, I started to begin to compromise.

I'm just telling you, this girl was everything I wanted. She had the Instagram bio Philippians 4:13, but you scroll down a little bit more and let me just tell you. It was a little revealing. I remember in that moment, I would just say, "It's not that bad. I've seen a lot worse." You know what I'm saying? I would just compare.

"Aw, I can always find someone worse than her," which gave me security in the fact that I was fine. I was good. I remember in that moment that there began to be a lack of conviction because there was a lack of contentment. See, where there's a lack a contentment, there will be a lack of conviction. Where there's a lack of conviction, you and I will always (and I mean this) be willing to settle for less than God's best.

Did you hear that? There will be a willingness to always settle for less than God's best. In that moment, I promise you I was settling for less than God's best. I would make excuses. I was the king of excuses. There was a season that I settled. I remember the Holy Spirit saying, "Josiah, you know this isn't right. You know you're making excuses."

Paul says, the things that you have learned from me, received from me, heard from me, seen in me, practice such things. This is such a bold statement Paul is making. "Hey, follow me. Why? Because I follow Christ." See, Paul was so confident in how he followed Christ. Not perfectly, but how he read God's Word, how he confessed sin, how he served others, how he was out sharing the gospel, and how he was truly applying the things that God was teaching him.

He says, "Hey, you want to follow Christ? You can follow me." I wonder how many of you tonight can say that? How many of you tonight can be that bold and say, "Hey, you can follow me. I know I'm not perfect, but I'm pursing the Perfect One." This verse here is really a discipleship verse.

This word discipleship means you're going to make a radical self-donation into someone else's life for the purpose of godliness and multiplication. It's this idea that you were created to invest your life into someone else. Those of you who have been coming to The Porch long enough and you've been singing songs and you've been hearing messages, but you walk out of the auditorium and you do nothing with it…

Paul would say tonight, "Hey, it's your job, Christian, to give that away." See, some of us come into this place and we have more truth than what we can obey. Some of us, we need to know less do more instead of knowing more and doing less. Some of you right now are not experiencing true contentment.

You're not experiencing how to be okay when things are not okay because you're not putting into practice the things that we see in Scripture. I heard this phrase a while back. It says, "Practice like you play." Practice like you play. I grew up playing baseball. That was my jam. It was my sport. I love baseball. I remember going into high school, and I loved it.

I wasn't the most talented. I was just kind of the hustle guy. They called me Charlie Hustle. I never really got many awards, but for some reason I got to go to college and play. In high school, I really didn't have anyone to follow. I just picked up some really bad habits. I just kind of scraped by, and then some coach gave me a shot in college.

I remember my freshman year of college just riding the bench. What was so significant about my freshman year in college is I had some upperclassmen, some seniors, come alongside me and say, "Hey, Josiah, I see something in you, bro. I want you to follow me this year. I want you to imitate what I do." So I would.

I would follow them and watch how they threw the baseball, how they fielded the baseball, how they hit the baseball, how they worked out in the gym, and how they dieted. I had to unlearn some of the things I learned in high school. I remember following those men. I remember saying, "This is incredible! I've never learned this much before."

They would show me how to properly prepare and play the game of baseball. They would say, "Imitate me. Watch what I do, and do it." They would coach me on the importance of practicing the right way instead of taking those short cuts. Listen, how you practice determines your progress on the field. Do you hear me?

Listen, how you practice gives you the confidence to face whatever might happen in the game. It's true with your spiritual life. How you practice spiritually will give you the progress that you ultimately want. How you practice spiritually will ultimately give you the confidence that you're going to need as life throws curveballs at you like we've seen in 2020.

The questions that you're asking… What are you practicing? Where are you spending your time? Where are you investing in? What are you truly looking at when no one's looking? What are you truly doing when you're behind closed doors? It's not just some Insta bio. It's not just a Tuesday night service at The Porch, right?

Right now, if I looked at your spiritual life, and I asked you these three questions, what would be your answer? First, who or what are you imitating? Are you imitating a political figure? Are you imitating People magazine or Vogue? Are you imitating those friends who you know aren't following Christ, but you just want to fit in and you can't shake it? Is your life worth imitating?

Could you say, "Hey, imitate me. Follow me like I follow Christ?" I wonder if I was to watch you or I was to follow you and I watched and I heard the things that came out of your mouth and the things that you did, would I fall more in love with Christ as a result? What does your spiritual practice look like for you? What does that look like?

Some of you tonight need to leave this room. You've been making excuses after excuses and 2020 is about to come to an end. Listen, you're not all in. But we've created an environment called First Steps up in the Loft every single week. You can go and you can hear more about how to get into Community and how to find people who are going to come alongside of you.

You can come up right here at the end of service, and I would love to talk with you about what it looks like to spiritually practice your faith, what it looks like to fight against sin, to be a man, and to not make excuses. I'm not talking about perfection. I'm talking about pursuing the one who is perfect and trusting that in that process, in that pursuit, he'll give you what you need.

So we think about the right things. We practice our faith. The last truth that's going to help us learn the secret of contentment is hoping in Christ. Look at what Philippians 4:11-13 says. "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need."

Look at what he says here, the climax, the coffee cup verse, the eye black verse for the athletes, the tee shirt verse, the one that we throw on our Insta bios. It's this. "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Here we see the secret to life. "I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me."

Do you know what's sad about this? We just slap it on a coffee mug. We just slap it on the Insta bios. When we look around the world, we see a world that doesn't say, "Hey, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." No, it says, "I can do all things through my good looks. I can do all things through my gifts. I can do all things through my job. I can do all things through my money. I can do all things through my popularity. I can do all things through my followers on Insta. I can do all things through my 401(k). I can do all things through my future relationship."

The opposite is just as true, if not truer. "I can do all things when I don't get the job. I can do all things when God is calling me to make hard decisions, to walk away from some things that I began to compromise in, and I began to settle for less than God's best. I can do all things when I don't win the game, when I don't get the promotion, when the cancer does come."

See, we have used this verse as selfish motivation to get what we want. Paul is saying, "No, no, no. This isn't just for the good times. It's for the bad times." Notice what Paul is saying here. "In any and every circumstance…" I have learned how to be content, whether it's the lowest of lows or the highest of highs.

See, a lot of us come in tonight and we have confused happiness with joy, where happiness is based on your happenings. You have a great happening? You're good. You're happy. But when that happening is low, you're like, "Bro, what just happened?" I am reading tonight that Paul, through Christ, is offering us something else. He is offering us a deep-seated joy that's not based on happiness. It's based on who Christ is.

Do you know him? Then you can navigate any circumstance that comes your way. This is why people who have everything they've ever wanted, a.k.a. Hollywood, end up depressed, have affairs, and many times commit suicide. People who own private islands have to wake up and take a pill every single day. There's nothing wrong with taking a pill, but you get the drift.

So Paul knows what it's like to be on both ends of the spectrum. Paul wasn't robbed of joy because of his circumstances but because of his focus. His focus was solely on Christ. See, Proverbs 27:20 says, "Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes." I had a firepit a few weeks back. It was cool outside, kind of like right now.

I remember feeding that fire twigs and leaves and some logs, some wood. It began to consume those things. Listen, this is a picture of our hearts, that when we put something in our hearts and we try to satisfy it with things other than Christ, like alcohol, porn, gossip, and anger, it leaves us wanting for more. You know this to be true.

Listen, this is why you go to bed at night asking the question, "Is that it?" Paul is saying, "Hey, no, it's not it. There's more to life. There's hope." The worst thing that God could ever do for any of us is to give us that satisfaction and contentment with something other than himself. That's the worst thing he could do for any one of us.

Sometimes my prayer over young adults is, "I'm praying that God would make you so miserable that you would have no choice but to look inward and upward." You know when this played out in my life, this idea of Jesus is enough, I was in a dark season. I remember it. I was 26 years old. I was lying in my bed after a series of breakups. I turned a corner. I wanted to be God's man.

I surrendered my life to Christ. I was like, "Yeah, I'm in. I'm all in with this God thing. I'm going." Then year after year after year I found myself single. Listen, I know there are a lot of other needs in the room that are way bigger than that, but that was mine. I remember at 26, 27 years old and in this season all the way up to 30 years old, at times crying in bed, just tears. I'm telling you. I'm cool. I'm cool if you know I cried. Tears were rolling down my face, man.

Some of you men are like, "I would never share that." Well, good for you. Maybe you should. Maybe that would help. I just remember having tears running down my face, saying, "God, I don't know. I think you have it wrong, God." I remember God saying, "Hey, am I enough, Josiah?" I remember saying, "I don't know if you are. This is the one thing I never thought I'd have to wrestle with, I'd never have to begin to fight."

Honestly in that season, God began to sustain me in ways I just talked about tonight, through community, through other men pointing me to the Scripture when I didn't want to believe this thing. I confessed my sin, "Hey, I'm weak. I'm not in a good place." I started a discipline where I got into God's Word, renewed my mind.

Through that season of even shaking the selfishness that was in my heart where I replaced it with serving, God began to do something in me. He began to show me that there's more to life than just a relationship. "I might have that for you, Josiah, but that's not the end. I'm the end." That's a really hard thing. I'm not minimizing it. I wrestled with it for a long time. Through that season, I learned that Jesus was enough. I chose to place my trust in him.

Listen, this is what Paul is getting at. Are you going to hope in Christ? I wonder if there's a generation of young adults tonight who would say, "Hey, I'm not just putting it on a coffee cup. I'm not just putting it on a verse. I'm not just putting it on the Instagram bio, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. No matter what comes my way, no matter what happens, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

That would be the anthem of your life, no matter what. That's what Paul is getting after tonight. Through God, he is saying, "This is where I want to get you to. You think that there are other things that are going to satisfy you, and they won't. I'm giving you these things. If you have them, awesome. Leverage them to make me known and to know me more." That's the point, not that you would find fulfillment in those things alone. Paul learned that Christ was enough. He realized that he couldn't do it on his own.

Do you know what I love about this season of corona? Maybe the one thing. It stripped me away from Josiah. It has caused me to rely on a God who says, "No matter what happens, no matter the circumstances, I'm still the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I'm not changing, even though the world changes, even though there are things that come and go. I am present. I am the same. I am with you. I love you. I pursue you."

It's me recognizing my fallibility, my sin, my weakness. When I'm weak, the Scripture says, he is strong. "So would you make me more weak, God, so that I can be filled up with a supernatural strength that doesn't look like the rest of the world so that when they see this life, they see something else outside of me?" That's the heart.

Listen, God still has ground to take in my heart. Tonight he is saying, we can have contentment and we can be okay when things are not okay, but you have to commit to thinking about the right things, to practicing your faith, and hoping in Christ that he would meet the deepest desires of your heart. Let me pray that he would tonight.

Father, only you can do that. No pill, no relationship, and no purchase can do what only you can do. God, would you bring us to the end of ourselves to show us that you're enough? There are areas in my own life right now that fail to believe that. So would you do that? Would you take ground in this man and in my friends tonight? For your glory, our joy, and the world's good, it's in Christ's name we pray, amen.