“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Rejoice in the Lord always. In a season like this, rejoicing feels right next to impossible. Being surrounded by so much uncertainty, rejoicing tends to get buried beneath worry. Sheltering at home in isolation or with a brood of kids doesn’t tend towards easy rejoicing. Job loss and loss of life cast shadows wide enough to block out the light. How, in this context can Paul call us to rejoice always?
The Lord is at hand…
Christians are to be a people marked by rejoicing. In our current cultural climate, I can think of few clearer ways for the Christian life to shine its light brightly than in the activity and practice of regular rejoicing. This rejoicing does not diminish or minimize the reality of our suffering. Rather, it honors it appropriately. Our ability to rejoice hinges on recognizing what we have been saved from. The pain of our current circumstances echo the greater suffering Christ took on our behalf. We weep with those who suffer, but we know through faith the shadow of this present suffering will fade away in the light of God’s redemption.
The difficulty may feel eternal, but it won’t be. We look at our circumstances with eyes of faith and to help our eyes see as God does, we ask for His assistance.
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
May the first moments when anxiety percolates in our hearts be a prompting to turn towards our heavenly Father who is ever present and cares for us. He does not promise our circumstances will change this side of heaven. He actually promises something much greater: a peace that surpasses understanding. Though our circumstances may be marred by chaos, our hearts can be ruled by peace. Though the ocean of troubles cast waves all around us, we can walk on the waters with our Savior.
Don’t wait for our current reality to change to get peace. If you do, your peace will flee from you at the next onset of trouble. Instead, set your anchor of faith upon the Rock of peace. Through prayer and thanksgiving make that anchor ever more secure until the day when all storms cease, and faith is no longer needed. Then we will see and understand as the same Peace that guarded us through the storms welcomes us to the shores of our eternal home.