Keith was feeling down as he trudged through the produce aisle. His hands trembled from the first signs of Parkinson’s disease. How long before his quality of life began to slide? What would this mean for his wife and children? Keith’s gloom was shattered by laughter. Over by the potatoes, a man pushed a giggling boy in a wheelchair. The man leaned over and whispered to his son, who couldn’t stop grinning. He was noticeably worse off than Keith, yet he and his dad were finding joy where they could.
Writing from prison or under house arrest as he awaited the outcome of his trial, the apostle Paul seemingly had no right to be joyful (Philippians 1:12–13). The emperor was Nero, a wicked man who would soon paint Christians with tar and set them on fire, so Paul had reason to be concerned. He also knew there were preachers who were taking advantage of his absence to gain glory for themselves. They thought they could “stir up trouble” for the apostle while he was imprisoned (v. 17).
Yet Paul chose to rejoice (vv. 18–21), and he told the Philippians to follow his example. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (4:4). Our situation might seem bleak, yet Jesus is with us now, and He’s guaranteed our glorious future. The Lord who walked out of His tomb will return to raise His followers to live with Him. As we begin this new year, may we rejoice!