“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
When I was in high school, I attended a Christian camp through my church every summer and winter. One year, the Camp Director explained something that really impacted me and has stayed with me over the years. She encouraged us to think back on a time when we were particularly certain of God’s hand in our lives – a time when we were able to clearly recognize His presence in our lives. After giving the group a moment to think, she reminded us that our God is unchanging and said “If God stays the same all throughout time and you have experienced His presence at one point in your life, you can be confident that He is continuing His work in your heart even when you don’t feel it.”
For me, this is a great encouragement in times of difficulty. In the moments when I feel lost and confused about where the Lord is leading me in this life, I remember Paul’s words at the beginning of his letter to the Philippians: “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:4-6). By reminding the Philippians of this Truth at the start of his letter, he lays the groundwork for the sustained joy that he calls them to in Philippians 4.
The word that makes Philippians 4:4 so challenging is the word “always.” While writing this letter of thanks to the Philippians, Paul was in prison. He experienced very extreme suffering, but even in the midst of that, he was able to give thanks to the Lord for the Philippians. We have no trouble rejoicing in the Lord when we receive a high score on a difficult exam or when we are on a spiritual high after a particularly convicting or moving Bible study. But in this verse, Paul makes sure to include the word “always.”
Think back to a time when you really felt the Lord moving in your life. Remember the assurance you had of His presence and the peace you experienced in that situation. Remember that the Lord who started a mighty work in your life will bring it to completion. Find refuge in His abundant love and place your hope in Him.
- How do you feel the Lord moving in your life right now?
- What is standing in the way of you rejoicing in the Lord always?
Written by Lara Tovmassian. Artwork by Xiao Peng