“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” — Philippians 4:4-5
Have you ever heard someone say, “God just wants me to be happy”? Typically, a person who makes a statement like this either is young in their faith or completely misunderstands God’s priorities for our lives. Happiness is dependent on things going well for us. Joy is different. Joy is a choice that is independent of the circumstances we’re experiencing.
Paul, in his letter to the Philippian church, focuses on being joyful. Considering his circumstances — sitting in a Roman prison for preaching the Gospel — I think Paul can help us adopt God’s perspective on joy in life.
Philippians 4:4 begins with a command: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Any time a writer in the Bible repeats a theme within a verse or couple of verses, they are drawing focus to that theme and attempting to drive home a thought. Paul instructs us to “rejoice in the Lord always.” He doesn’t mention his circumstances or what makes him happy. Paul experienced many difficulties in his Christian life, and he learned the secret to rising above any difficulty: Choose to have joy in the Lord. Why? Because, as verse 5 states, “The Lord is near.”
Amid the difficulties of a bad game, a difficult relationship, or an injury, know the Lord is near and desires to meet your every need in those situations. Choose the joy of His presence.
— Mickey Weston, Chicago White Sox chaplain
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