Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4
The apostle Paul urges us to "rejoice in the Lord always." But how do you rejoice when things have turned against you?
How can you rejoice when someone has walked out on you, or you have lost a loved one? How can you rejoice when you have been diagnosed with a terminal disease, or when you live your life in a wheelchair? How can you rejoice when, no matter how hard you try, things are not going right in your church?
We might be tempted to conclude that Paul does not know what life is all about. But then, of course, Paul does know. Paul is not writing these words from a plush office but from a prison in the ancient Roman Empire. Paul has learned from personal experience that our joy in the Lord does not depend on having things go our way, or on having everything we want, but on whether or not we are "in the Lord."
Paul does not tell us to rejoice in tragedy that might come our way. He is not asking us to rejoice over the fact that someone we love is gone. He wants us to rejoice "in the Lord." Paul wants us to rejoice in the God who never changes, who forgives, who always takes us home, and who never turns his back on us. The closer we live to this Lord, the more we will be able to rejoice in him, even when things turn against us.
Lord, sometimes it seems almost impossible for us to rejoice. Help us to understand that only in and through your Holy Spirit can we possibly learn to rejoice in you. Amen.
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