June 6, 2018

Joy and Contentment in All Things

A few years ago I did a word study on joy, because I wanted to know how to have more of it. I felt as if I were slogging through life and ministry, and I wondered if I should somehow feel differently about it all or how I might choose joy, if joy was actually a choice I could make. I think joy is a word we love, but we don't always know what joy is, nor do we understand how it comes to us. 

That's why I'm glad for Melissa Kruger and her new book, In All Things: A Nine Week Devotional Bible Study on Unshakeable Joy. I'm working through it right now and can't recommend it highly enough. In All Things takes readers through the book of Philippians and helps us discover a joy and a contentment that will carry us through every circumstance of life.

In celebration of the release of In All Things, I've asked Melissa to pop in on the blog to give us a sneak peek of the book. 

Tell us about you, your family, and your current ministry.
I’m married to Mike, who serves as the President of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte. I love getting to share life and ministry with him. We have three children, Emma (17), John (14) and Kate (11).  Most afternoons you’ll find me on a sports field somewhere watching one of their games.

I currently work as an editor for The Gospel Coalition and at my church as our women’s ministry coordinator. I’m thankful that both jobs allow me to work in Word-based discipleship with women. Each job helps me do the other job better.

You have a new book coming out. Where did the idea for this book come from and what is it about?
About 10 years ago I was visiting a missionary friend in Prague. We were walking along the streets together talking and she casually asked if I’d be willing to help write some questions for her on the book of Philippians. She wanted to study it with her Bible study group that fall and couldn’t find a resource she liked. I agreed to help and that began the process of 10 years of studying, teaching, and writing on the book of Philippians. I’m so glad for that conversation—it led me to so many rich truths!

What are the biggest takeaways you hope readers will gain from your book?
I hope for us to truly believe that joy and contentment don’t happen because we get our lives organized or perfectly balanced, but rather they flow from spending time with Jesus and remembering his goodness and graciousness toward us. Jesus is the source of all joy and nothing else can satisfy us.

What surprising truths did you learn in the process of writing this study?
Philippians is known to be a book about joy. However, Paul’s joy is so different from the joy we typically see in the world today. While suffering in prison, he rejoiced because it allowed the imperial guard to hear the gospel. Though he knew people in ministry were preaching the gospel with wrong motives, he rejoiced that the gospel was preached. When faced with imminent death, he rejoiced at the thought of being alive with Christ. Paul’s joy was rooted in his salvation and it overflowed from his life, no matter the circumstance he faced. By the power of the Holy Spirit this same joy is available to you and me—what a gift!

The second truth that struck me is that Paul’s famous line, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” refers to his battle for contentment. We often think of this verse in terms of doing amazing things for Christ and his Kingdom, but Paul uses it in reference to his ability to be content in both plenty and in want. It’s made me realize that perhaps the most difficult thing in all the world is not doing great and big things for God, but walking in daily trust and reliance on our Savior—in whatever circumstance we face. Our daily joy in the midst of a difficulties and trials is only possible by Christ’s work within us. Our joy shines to the watching world in a way that makes them wonder about our God.

How has writing this book affected your own life?
One way this book has affected my own life is that it's helped focus my prayer life in new ways. Paul’s love for the Philippians overflowed in prayer. And here’s what he prayed: "And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God" (Phil. 1:9-11).

This is how I want to pray for those I love—seeking the Lord on their behalf in hopes that their faith may flourish, whatever circumstances they face.
Order your copy of In All Things today for your own study of Philippians this summer. Find out more about Melissa on her website or follow her on Twitter