Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4 NIV)
On December 10, 1914, inventor Thomas Edison’s manufacturing plant went up in flames. According to a 1961 Reader’s Digest article by Edison’s son Charles, Edison calmly walked over to him as he watched the fire destroy his dad’s work. In a childlike voice, Edison told his 24-year-old son, “Go get your mother and all her friends. They’ll never see a fire like this again.” When Charles objected, Edison said, “It’s all right. We’ve just got rid of a lot of rubbish.”
At age 67, Edison started over without letting a single employee go. Instead of being lost in despair and loss, he focused on starting over with a clean slate, even though he had lost the equivalent of about 23 million dollars today.
In Philippians 4:4, the Apostle Paul encourages his friends to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” But this is no naïve, “don’t worry, be happy” advice. Let’s remember that Paul wrote this letter while he was in prison. Four times in the first chapter he mentions the chains of his captivity. Paul experienced a great deal of hardship, a great deal of suffering, and a great deal of persecution. He never pretended that life was always going to be easy and pleasant.
But he did say that believers could always rejoice. How? Because no matter what the situation was, Jesus was always with him. If Paul was in prison and wearing chains, Jesus was there. If Paul was shipwrecked in deep water, the Lord of creation was with him. If he was being attacked, the Savior who had been arrested and crucified was risen and walking with him. By focusing more on God’s mercy in Christ and less on his circumstances, Paul was able to rejoice in the Lord always.
Is it hard for you to rejoice right now? Do you read the news and breathe out a long, discouraged sigh? Do you feel anxious about your health or the health of loved ones? Do you find yourself worrying constantly about your economic situation? These issues are real.
But what is even more sure and real is the living presence of Jesus in our lives. He has defeated Satan. He has removed the burden of our sins through His death on the cross. He has triumphed over death and the grave in His resurrection. And He is giving us the benefits of His work.
Satan does not control us. Our sins do not define our identity or our destiny. And when Jesus returns, we will leave our graves and be raised to life imperishable.
This is why we rejoice, always. So rejoice today! I will say it again! Rejoice!