“Rejoice in the Lord, it is no trouble for me to write this to you again and it is a safeguard for you” (Phil. 3:1).
If you are like me, you need gentle reminders during the quiet moments that, to be Christian is to live the life of an alien. We who are in Christ are in the world but not of it. We are citizens of earthly realms but belong to a future Kingdom. We do not think the same, speak the same, reason the same, nor do we hope the same as the people of this world. Our joy, having a different and boundless source, is likewise of a different order.
So, no matter where you are in life—rejoice. No matter what you are going through—rejoice. Rejoice when people around you raise their voice in despair. Rejoice because despite all that you know and all that is unexplained, there is a God who is with us. He has graciously promised to never leave us nor forsake us. In this we rejoice.
But we are made only of flesh. Weak as our wills are, cruel as the world is, we struggle to rejoice always. Joy does not come as naturally. The trials do not squeeze praise from our lips but instead leave us breathless, gasping for relief, longing for answers. Our first instinct is not praise nor is our initial desire worship. First we want answers and then we want relief. Rejoicing is a struggle for the people of God.
When we see all we have as gifts of grace from God we will rejoice always. In this way, while much in life sours under the weight of sin, life is still sweet. Life is sweet because it is first and foremost in the Lord that we rejoice and not in our possessions, positions, or circumstances. All these things, all that we have and hold now, could be swept away tomorrow. All these things, the people and possessions we covet are themselves temporal. If our joy is attached to the temporal ALONE it will be swept away when the winds come—and they will come. If our joy is founded only on people and things it will pass when they pass away. But, if our joy is in the eternal triune God, then our joy will endure and we can rejoice always.
This is why rejoicing in the Lord, this celebration OF the Lord, celebration IN the Lord, is a safeguard to us. We must remember that He is above all things, controls all things, and is himself our inheritance. If we remember these things we will not condemn Him for our unfulfilled desires. Then we would find it easier to worship Him for what seems the smallest of gifts—life. It is not the smallest of gifts, but in our haste for so much more it is often marginalized rather than celebrated.
When I have trouble rejoicing it is generally because I am too focused on the state of things rather than on the Lord of all things. While this miserable world fights our resolve, while it tempts us to complain and worry about what we lack, God reminds us to rejoice in what we have—even if He is all we have. Then we can look to see all these things added. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4)!
Job 40:8, Matt. 6:33, Matt. 7:24-27, John 17, 1Cor. 4:7, Phil. 4, Heb. 13:5
Copyright(C)Hudson Russell Davis