As you look back over 2022, I bet you recall both highs and lows. Some years, the scales tip heavier on one side than the other. But life on planet earth is never without challenges. How do we safeguard ourselves from life’s inevitable punches?
Paul offers some surprising advice.
Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you” (Phil. 3:1 NIV).
I find it ironic that a letter written in prison tells us to rejoice. Have you ever felt trapped in some sort of prison? Grief, illness, financial problems, or relationship battles limited your freedom and joy. Do Paul’s words really apply in such situations?
Paul lacked bare necessities. He needed Timothy to bring him a warm cloak (2 Tim. 4:13). Despite his deprivation, he says, “Rejoice in the Lord! It is a safeguard for you.”
Why Should We Rejoice in the Lord?
Paul says rejoicing in the Lord is a safeguard or a protection for us. The only absolute we carry into 2023 is knowing the One who never changes (Heb. 13:8). To put our hope in anything less is to build on sand.
When Do We Rejoice?
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4 NIV).
Always? Even when we’re sick, weary, broke, and lonely? Even when evil seems to triumph over good? Yes, according to Paul who’d experienced all of these, even then.
In What Do We Rejoice?
When life is good, it’s easy to rejoice in our circumstances. But circumstances change. Let’s look at a biblical example.
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name’” (Lk. 10:17 NIV).
Imagine being among Jesus’s followers and having God use you to bring deliverance to those who’d been tormented by demons. You wouldn’t be able to contain your joy. Jesus rejoiced with these disciples. But He also warned them.
“He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven’” (Lk. 10:18-20 NIV emphasis added).
Jesus knew circumstances are a flimsy support for joy. Those same disciples would be disillusioned when Jesus was crucified. It’s not wrong to rejoice in happy times, but joy needs a more stable foundation. That’s why we rejoice in the Lord and His gift of eternal life.It’s not wrong to rejoice in happy times, but our #joy needs a firmer, more stable foundation. #hope Click To Tweet
The Big Picture
Imagine being on death row awaiting lethal injection. You bid your loved ones goodbye and await your fate. The guard, accompanied by a cohort of officials, enters your cell. This is it. Or is it?
A man steps forward and reads from an official-looking document. The President of the United States has pardoned you. They haven’t come to escort you to your death. They’ve come to return your life!
Two months later you prepare for a job interview and scorch the blouse you planned to wear. You can’t find available parking at your interview site. Would these disappointments overshadow the wonder of your pardon—the joy of being alive and free?
Our greatest highs can’t compare with having our names written in heaven. And our lowest lows can’t erase the wonder of God’s gracious gift. Pain and loss on this earth is temporary for those who know Jesus (Rev. 21).
Rejoicing in Jesus is the perfect safeguard for every circumstance. Do you have a bothersome worry that won’t leave you alone? What would happen if we rejoiced in the Lord every time worry pestered us?
Lord Jesus, I praise You for Your great love. Thank You for being my help. You never forsake me. You provide all my needs. I delight in You and release my cares into Your hands.
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