Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
– Philippians 4:4
Much to the embarrassment of my family, I am a people watcher. Being out in public for me can be as entertaining as going to the movies. To the point where my kids have to nudge me and plead, “Mom, stop staring!”
Awhile back on vacation, I couldn’t take my eyes off a toddler throwing a monster of a temper tantrum at the beach. I felt badly for his parents. I’m sure they’d worked so hard to get everything ready, anticipating of a fairy tale day of family fun in paradise. But all their little guy wanted to do was eat the sand. Every time they tried to stop his chubby little fingers from shoving fistfuls of it in his mouth, he’d scream like he was being tortured.
I giggled to myself. Partly out of empathy, partly out of relief that it wasn’t me, and partly because it reminded me of what God must be thinking of us when we whine and complain in our own paradises. We’re given a beautiful day, but we complain about the traffic. We’re having lunch with a co-worker, and criticizing others in our company. It’s Thanksgiving week, but we’re mad at the grocery lines and wish everyone would just “get out of the way!”
Much as the parents on the beach wanted to plead with their son to stop the whining and just enjoy himself, God must look at us sometimes and think the same thing.
Paul, when he urged us to rejoice every day, had endured every kind of hardship you can imagine. He’d been beaten, shipwrecked (three times), bitten by a snake, and imprisoned. You name it, Paul endured it. How could he still rejoice?
I believe Paul could rejoice because of his close relationship with Jesus. He counted this relationship as the most important thing in his life, above all else. He writes about his intense desire in Philippians 3:10, I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him.
Paul knew his confidence and strength to endure suffering came not from himself, but from Christ. It was Christ’s strength that Paul relied on during his hardships. In knowing that he was Christ’s servant, spreading the good news, Paul could find joy, contentment, peace, and hope in all circumstances, from a packed church to a solitary prison cell. He could praise God knowing each situation was molding him into the likeness of his Savior. You can too.
What if you saw yourself as a modern day apostle? When asked where your joy comes from, you point to Jesus. When hardships hit, you walk through them with a good attitude, giving Jesus the credit. When your self-esteem hits a low, you look up and find your confidence in the One who’s name is greater than all names.
At all times, in all circumstances JOY is a choice. As Paul encourages, choose wisely and live a life of confident rejoicing.
The Power of Giving God Thanks Will Ignite Your Faith and Change Your World!
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