I preached through Philippians 4:4-9 last Sunday and I have to say that it is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. By nature, I am an analyzer. I am pretty good at picking out what is going wrong with something and in giving recommendations for how to fix it. I might not always be right, but I am always thinking about how to improve things and address problems. Sometimes people think that I am being negative, but I really am able to engage in this most of the time with a light spirit and joy in my life. In other words, I can focus on what is going wrong without being obsessed by it.
Most of the time.
But, sometimes, I can drift into just being critical. I can become negative. I can be overwhelmed by problems and not see a way out. I know this about myself and when that happens I find that I have taken my focus off of Christ and I am staring straight at the problem. I can go blind with it, just about. So, this is why a continual reminder to rejoice in the Lord is exactly what I need. We are not told to rejoice in our circumstances. Sometimes our circumstances stink. Sometimes things are not working out the way that we want them to at all. But, God never changes. He never stops working. We can rejoice in Him even when everything else around us is falling apart. He is above all of it and faith helps us see that.
Rejoicing in the Lord does not mean that you put on a smiley face that covers the twitch you have developed because your nerves are shot. Rather, it means that you can stare massive problems in the face and praise God anyway because you recognize that He is bigger than your problems and He is more than able to handle whatever you are going through. You actually begin to look past your problems and look to the God who is more than able to deliver you. And, even if things don't work out, God is not surprised and He is still working, still redeeming, and still holding you close to Himself. We are going to have trouble in this life. Jesus told us that. But, he also said that he would overcome the world.
Since I started this blog it has been my desire to chronicle where I see God working in the world around me. Sometimes, I focus on problems. God works through problems. Other times, I focus on really good things. God works in that too. God works for the good in all things for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The Bible says that. So, we can know that no matter what we are going through, God is still worthy of our praise. Knowing that and actually believing it changes things.
Rejoice in the Lord all the time. No matter what. Always. Easier said than done sometimes, but just a moment in real worship of God changes everything and you see that He is more than able to carry your burdens.