Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4
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 had a growing reputation for violence and cruelty, 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. Christ, 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!
What personal suffering or injustice causes you to languish in your sorrow? How might the truth of Jesus bring you joy?
Father, please raise my eyes above my circumstances. I look to You alone for joy.
For further study, read Why? Seeing God in Our Pain.
Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi is much loved because of its emphasis on joy. Considered by many to be the apostle’s most practical letter, it nevertheless contains one of the most theological segments in the New Testament. The declaration in Philippians 2:5–11, believed by some to have been a part of an ancient hymn, explores what Christ left behind to come to earth as a human being. It also explores His ultimate mission—the cross—and the glory that will be His one day, when “every knee [will] bow” and “every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord” (vv. 10–11).