“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (4:11-13).
In this letter to the Philippians, Paul, this rugged warrior of the cross who went through all kinds of hardship, could speak to the body of believers whom he so deeply loved and say to them, “Brothers and sisters, I want you to be able to rejoice in the Lord the way I am rejoicing in the Lord!”
By his example, Paul showed that he knew how to thrive in any circumstance because he had learned the secret of trusting in the Lord — even rejoicing — independent of his circumstances. Interestingly, Paul is writing to them from a prison in Rome. It was more than a prison, actually; it was a dungeon, a cave, so damp that the condensation collected on the floor and when Paul lay down to sleep at night, water was on his face and body. Such horrible conditions could have made him angry, but the Holy Spirit had worked a gentleness into this man’s character that caused him to give thanks in every situation. Even when battles raged around him, he rejoiced in the goodness of his Lord.
Do you work in a stressful environment, among people with petty attitudes? Your family situation may be difficult, full of strife and anger, and even your neighborhood may be in turmoil. Paul is instructing us on how to react to things we cannot fix: in fact, he was so sure of his message that he repeated it: “Rejoice! Keep your heart focused on the Lord and rejoice!”