“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:4-5
I drove up the last stretch of the winding road to the cabin. The last few months, filled with unwanted surprises and worries, had worn me down. I needed a getaway to regain my balance. But the change in scenery did not help as much as I expected, and the stress and frustrations returned. Despite knowing God is ultimately in charge and that he knows what is best for us, we still find ourselves frustrated and disappointed when our well-intended plans do not go our way. Are we willing to forego our plans for his, remaining open and trusting in the Lord’s ways to fulfill our hopes and dreams? In Philippians, the apostle Paul speaks of rejoicing in the Lord always. He does not suggest we delight in the tragic events in our lives. Instead, we are called to rejoice in Jesus, who reigns over all the earth, who accompanies us in life’s joys, successes, challenges, and disappointments.
Times of struggle are the times to exercise our faith. God recognizes we may not always understand the reason for the painful circumstances in our lives. But we do know God never promised us an easy life in this fallen world. He promised us a good life in his Son, Jesus Christ, from whom our joy arises. Jesus died for us and rose on the third day. In light of this truth of Christ, who is himself the “resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), let us rejoice through faith, thanking and praising him for his gift of salvation — and his loving and caring presence in our lives.
Lord, thank you for your friendship and the gift of salvation through your death and resurrection. Jesus, help me to rest and rejoice in you always, especially during times of disappointment and hardship. Amen.
Ask the Holy Spirit to assure you of his presence with you in your difficulties. As you face challenges, ask the Lord to be your joy and peace.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
What guards your heart? What protects your mind? Did you know that the peace of God can stand guard over our hearts and minds? That’s the apostle Paul’s promise to us in this passage. If we will present our requests to God, with thanksgiving, then God’s peace that is greater than any explanation and that transcends our ability to comprehend it, will stand sentry over our hearts and minds. You want an example of how this is true? Look at the book of Job. All that befalls him. All that wounds him. Yet still he doesn’t become hard of heart or go insane. What is the key to his survival? His ongoing conversation with the LORD. He will not relinquish that relationship no matter how badly he hurts, how much he is confused, nor how badly he is ridiculed.
Father, I need your peace. There are wounds that pierce my heart, but I don’t want it to become hardened and callused. There are times my mind is so confused that I fear I may lose my rationality. Dear Father, I trust that as I cling to Jesus, and as I speak openly with you about my life and your grace, that you will bless me with your peace and will protect my heart and my mind from destruction. Thank you, dear Father, for the reminder that even as I struggle with my troubles, I also need to give you thanks for all the good things that you have blessed me with in my life and my walk with you! In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.