What is extraordinary about Paul is how unbelievably durable his joy was when things weren’t going well.
Where did this come from?
First of all it was taught by Jesus: “Blessed are you when men hate you . . . Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:22–23). Troubles for Jesus compound your interest in heaven — which last a lot longer than earth.
Second, it comes from the Holy Spirit, not our own efforts or imagination or family upbringing. “The fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy” (Galatians 5:22). “You received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1Thessalonians 1:6).
Third, it comes from belonging to the kingdom of God. “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).
Fourth, it comes through faith, that is, from believing God. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13). “I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith” (Philippians 1:25).
Fifth, it comes from seeing and knowing Jesus as Lord. “Rejoice in the Lord always”(Philippians 4:4).
Sixth, it comes from fellow believers who work hard to help us focus on these sources of joy, rather than deceitful circumstances. “We are workers with you for your joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24).
Seventh, it comes from the sanctifying effects of tribulations. “We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope” (Romans 5:3–4).
If we are not yet like Paul, he calls us to be. “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). And for most of us this is a call to earnest prayer. It is a supernatural life.