If you look at the world a certain way, it’s easy not to rejoice. Life is stressful.
I keep waiting for that time when everything slows down. Then, I tell myself, I’ll be less stressed and more content. Do you ever fall into this trap?
There’s negative stuff all around us, which, if we’re so inclined, can damper our spirits. An uncertain economy. A rising deficit. Strife in the Middle East (isn’t there always?).
Perhaps there’s uncertainty about health (why these weird symptoms?). And concern for the kids (Lord, help them to turn out okay . . .). And a million more besides.
But our world isn’t any different from the one the Bible spoke to.
Parents worried about their children. They stressed over the new emperor. In ways we can’t even imagine, their physical health was always a concern (no antibiotics???).
Yes, to that world, and to ours, Paul wrote: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
Notice that he didn’t say, “Rejoice always.”
The little prepositional phrase in the middle makes all the difference.
If our joy depends on perfect health or a booming economy, it’ll never happen.
If our contentment hinges on a stress-free life or perfect relationships, we’ll always be disappointed.
It just won’t work.
Which is why Paul said to rejoice “in the Lord.”
Rejoice because of our relationship to Jesus Christ.
Because he saved us.
Because even though this world is messed up, he’s going to fix it.
Because our names are written in the book of life, and we’ve got a certain hope for tomorrow.
No matter what kind of stresses we face today.
Rejoice, Paul says.
In the Lord. —Chuck