Dukkha? Rejoice! Philippians 1:1-11

“Life is DUKKHA” said the Buddha. It was his starting point for dealing with life. What is Dukkha? Sickness, financial problems, old age, death. Dukkha is the grinding weariness of knowing another hardship, tragedy or disappointment is just around the next corner. So what is Buddha’s solution? Detach. If you don’t care about the world around you in any attached sense, then tragedy won’t sink you. Eventually you will have nothing in common with this world of Dukkha-ness and will float beyond…
Jesus said to love God and to love people, including ourselves. The problem is, however, that we often feel let down by God and people, including ourselves. How should we respond? Paul says, cheer up!. Actually, what he says is “rejoice!” How is that any more hopeful than what the Buddha said?
First, rejoice, you aren’t crazy. Everyone has Chronic Dukkha Syndrome. Suffering just won’t leave us alone. It is not just you, it is life in this present age. Second, not only are you not unique in suffering, you are not alone. God calls hurting people to love him and others. How can he do that “from way up… wherever he is”? The good news is that God is has not been giving advice from “out there”. God in Christ has come and not only experienced the Dukkha of life, Jesus has in fact borne its full weight and risen in victory. You are not called to love just any God, you are called to love the God who has joined you in hardship, and more importantly, has overcome hardship. Rejoice! Dukkha does not win. In Christ we do not suffer without hope. We suffer as we pass through a temporary world while declaring and displaying a new creation, a world where Dukkha will not find a place.
Philippians is a letter from a guy who started a church through suffering (Acts 16). Paul went on from that episode of suffering to a string of other dramatic and traumatic episodes. In his letter Paul passes on his confidence “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) Paul’s prayer for people learning to live the life in Christ is that they get good at loving wisely. When they do, they will be able to respond to hardship like he does: “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.” (Philippians 2:17-18)
As we study the letter of Philippians together, let’s look for the wisdom and power to be people who overcome hardship with joyful confidence. Though we may be tempted to give up hope and become cynical and just find ways to cope, there is a better way. We can get better at loving wisely and living successfully as a result. Let us pray the prayer Paul prayed for those he loved. Let us pray for each other this way:
“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.”
(Philippians 1:9-11)
(Sunday worship will have a brief retelling of the founding of the church in Philippi (Acts 16) and then we will study Chapter 1 verses 1-11. Memorizing 1:6 and 1:9-11 would really help in understanding and applying Philippians to our lives)

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