Always and Anything
As Paul instructed the Philippians, we are to rejoice in the Lord always and be anxious for nothing (Philippians 4:4-6). He used other extreme words in those instructions too—every situation, all understanding, whatever is true, right, and good. We read such words and agree with them wholeheartedly. At least in theory.
Isn’t it strange how gladly we apply these instructions to every situation except the one we happen to be in? Our present circumstances, whatever they happen to be, seem too difficult, too unexpected, too exceptional. Surely scripture means for us to rejoice always—except for this kind of thing. It must mean to be anxious for nothing—except what is currently on our mind. Surely “always” and “anything” don’t actually mean always and anything.
But they do. The Philippian church began when Paul and Silas were brutally beaten with rods, jailed, and placed in limb-twisting stocks, and still found a way to sing hymns in the middle of the night. If rejoicing in the Lord always can apply to that situation, it can apply to anything we happen to be in now. Always really does mean always.
Determine to practice that. Be stubborn about it. God is a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1 esv). He is a much more present help when we are rejoicing in his nature to deliver, heal, love, forgive, provide, and protect than when we are complaining, lamenting, or being pitiful. An earthquake in Philippi is evidence of that (Acts 16:25-34). Joy is room temperature for God, the climate of his kingdom. Practice it relentlessly and expect him to respond with peace, power, and love—always.
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