Happy Memories from Bad Experiences

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God”  (Philippians 1:3 NLT).

Happy Memories from Bad Experiences

I love the encouragement found in the book of Philippians.  One of the reasons Paul wrote this book was to thank the church at Philippi for their helpHe writes, “I thank God for the help you gave me” (Philippians 1:5).  He also wrote, “no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only” (Philippians 4:15); “Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again” (Philippians 4:16).    The generosity of the Philippians to Paul compelled him to assure them “my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).   This is quite a thank you letter.

It should be noted that Paul did not have a pleasant experience in Philippi.  He was beaten, whipped, humiliated, falsely arrested, thrown into prison, and survived an earthquake. Then, he

was asked by the city leaders to leave town.  In spite of all of this, Paul writes, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God” (Philippians 1:3).

How can he survive such a difficult experience but express such deep gratitude?  Paul is consciously choosing where to focus his attention.  He has selected not to dwell on the painful memories but to express gratitude for the good things that had been done for him and through him.

I have a friend that lost his house and all of his possessions in a flood a few years ago.  We were recently talking about the flood and he said, “I do not really remember the flood itself, damages, or losses, but I vividly remember the angels that God sent to help rebuild and refurnish my house.”  What a testimony!  He saw the Hand of Christ throughout the flood and the subsequent recovery.

Our mental, physical, and spiritual health is connected.  Too often we allow painful memories to linger in our minds and then suffer the adverse consequences to our physical and spiritual health.  Scripture teaches us to “…take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).   This process allows us to “weed out” negative thoughts and live a life of gratitude.  Paul was likely following his own advice that he gave the Philippians.  “… Fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable” (Philippians 4:8).

Paul had a lot of reasons to focus on painful memories of Philippi. Instead, he chose to be grateful for the people that helped him, and the work God was doing in and through them to build His church.  When we forgive others for their wrongs against us, then we can have happy memories even though we had difficult circumstances.  This attitude honors God, and He bless our relationships far beyond our expectations when we focus on His blessings.

Prayer:  Dear God:  Thank you for helping us to forget painful memories and focus our thoughts on you.  Please continue to lead, guide, and direct us in all that we do.   May others know that we are Christians by our love.  Amen. 

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

We welcome your comments below.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Thank you for visiting. We trust that you have enjoyed reading our articles.

Liked this post?

Read more below or search for more topics...

  • The True Meaning of Salvation

    The True Meaning Of Salvation "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12 NIV).I had heard the term salvation for years, but was not entirely clear of its meaning. I have come to understand that salvation is “deliverance from danger or suffering.” To save is to deliver or protect. The word carries the idea of victory, health or preservation. Sometimes, the Bible uses the words “saved” or “salvation” to refer to temporal, physical deliverance -- such as St. Paul’s deliverance from prison...
  • Finding Comfort During Grief

    Finding Comfort During Grief “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4 NIV) Grief is inevitable.  We grieve our loss – a child, spouse, parent, close friend, or pet.  I have grieved many losses in my life – sister, marriage, father, friends, and many pets.  It is important to understand that grief is a process and it never ends but does take one through different stages.  It is a passage to go through but not a place to linger until the final stage of acceptance.  Grief is not a sign of weakness nor a lack of faith and...
  • Obstacles to Joy

    Obstacles to Joy “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”  (John 16:33 NIV). We all have stress and anxiety.  These are obstacles to the happiness that we all seek.  I think what is important is how we deal with these obstacles.  A little bit of stress is natural and no problem.  It can be helpful and protect us from dangerous situations. Regardless of the source of our stress, we as Christians have a proven method to rid ourselves of it but it takes courage...