“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4, NASB).
I have known this verse since I was a young boy. I’ve read it and heard it hundreds of times over the years.
I always thought that it must be something that I will understand when I grow more as a believer or when I am older in the faith. It seems impossible. “Rejoice in the Lord, sometimes.” I could do that. “Rejoice occasionally” sounds possible. That word “always”! How is that possible? What does that even mean? Does anyone experience this?
It is followed by another familiar Bible verse which seems equally crazy: “Be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6, NASB). Nothing? I don’t know about you, but I’ve had periods in my life where I would be happy if I could find a few moments where I wasn’t anxious.
I once heard a great sermon about this passage while attending church in Texas with my son. The pastor showed a clip from a movie called “To End All Wars” about prisoners of war at the end of World War II. At the beginning of the clip, the prisoners looked miserable, downcast, discouraged and near death. The land was dry and desolate. The situation seemed truly hopeless. All of a sudden, planes flew over and dropped papers that announced the end of the war!
Instantly, everything changed and the prisoners were jumping around in celebration, hugging each other and having a huge party. Nothing had changed in the camp. They hadn’t been rescued yet. They were still stuck in a remote place. Yet everything changed because “rescue was just around the corner.”
What if we lived like “rescue was just around the corner”? Even though our daily circumstances are sometimes good and sometimes difficult, the end of our story is sure and the Lord is just around the corner.
Clearly, Paul understood this as he wrote Philippians, because he wrote this from jail. So we can see that circumstances have nothing to do with rejoicing. It isn’t about being happy. Paul knew that jail was just temporary and that the sweet rescue of the Lord was coming soon. That is why he could write about rejoicing always, being anxious for nothing and being content in all situations. It is because our rescue is sure!! It is because our Savior has come.
I’m trying to remind myself of this fact as often as I can when anxiousness or discouragement creeps in … and they will. Rescue is just around the corner. It is sure!
Are you living like the Rescuer is coming soon?
Our confidence in God’s rescue is rooted in His character. Read about Why We Must Think Rightly About God.
Jesus is not only our Redeemer, He is also the Alpha and Omega, and Immanuel. Read about the many names of Jesus.
About the author:
Tom Seely lives in Budapest, Hungary, where he and his wife, Valerie, serve at Cru's Eastern Europe and Russia Area Office, where they have been since 2003. Tom is the Area Digital Strategies Leader for the area. In this role, he leads a team that helps the 20 countries in the area use digital tools, like websites, social media, video, photography and mobile apps, to reach more people with the gospel.