“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Living the Christian life is so opposite, so against the grain of our human nature. When today’s verse tells me to rejoice always, my inclination is to be glum-faced, thank you. A little bit of whining, huffing and puffing, scowling and sighing is more to my liking. But common sense warns me it will only make things worse.
Philippians 4:4 is a triple whammy: we are to rejoice in the Lord always, and then again, rejoice with an exclamation mark. Perhaps Paul felt he should underscore the command because circumstances in Philippi were so bad as to make the exhortation utterly unreasonable. But Christians can be commanded to rejoice because their ground for doing so is not in circumstances, but “in the Lord.” The command may be contrary to our old nature, but remember it’s not Paul’s command. It is the command of Jesus Christ. When Paul insisted we rejoice always, he was no doubt thinking of the words of Jesus who said, “Take heart! I have overcome the world” and “Blessed are you when men hate you. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy for great is your reward in heaven” (John 16:33; Luke 6:22-23). We rejoice not only because Jesus told us to, but because He Himself rejoiced. And that’s with an exclamation mark!
How can we rejoice in every circumstance? In chronic pain or cancer? In rejection and bankruptcy? The next verse provides motive, perspective, encouragement and reason enough: The Lord is near(Philippians 4:5). You can keep a bright outlook in the midst of any hardship, you can have peace of mind and heart when you know that the Lord Jesus is close at hand. Think of a situation you’ve been grumbling about; choose today to rejoice in the Lord in the midst of it all.
Lord, I bring before You the circumstance of _______________. I purpose by Your grace to rejoice always, and again I will say, “I rejoice!”