Let us play “what if…” What if tomorrow everything you have was taken away? What if the government imprisoned your family, confiscated your possessions, tortured you to the point of death and then put you in solitary confinement? Would you be happy? No! Could you have joy? Yes! In fact, this sort of thing has happened to God’s people from the beginning. It is happening in many places in the world today, places like China and in most Islamic countries.
In Philippians 4:4, Paul says, Rejoice in the Lord alway. And again I say, rejoice! Note again the word “always.” Whether circumstances are favorable or unfavorable, whether we are abounding or suffering need, whether we are outwardly happy or sad, the growing Christian can still “rejoice in the Lord.”
I read this as though Paul anticipates the Philippians question. He says, “Rejoice in the Lord always,” and someone says, “Yes, except when…” and then Paul responds, “Again I say rejoice!” In spite of the circumstances, we are to rejoice!
In II Corinthians 6, Paul describes the conflicting emotions brought on by his ministry. He writes in verse 10, “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…” There were many things in life that brought him both physical and emotional pain. He was often “sorrowful” but at the same time, he was “rejoicing” in the Lord.
The Lord Jesus models that contrast. He wept over the unbelief of the Jews, yet He rejoiced in doing the will of His father.
How about all of us? Do we find ourselves rejoicing or always down, complaining about our lives? Rejoice on purpose today!