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We are living through a very chaotic time right now. The world around us feels tense, people are experiencing heightened anxiety, anger, and frustrations, and society does not feel like a joyful place at all. How could we possibly find joy in a time like this? How could Christ possibly be glorified in all this pain, sickness, and division? How can we rejoice in the middle of all this suffering?
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ‘Philippians 2:10-11
Lately I have been on a roller coaster. Life seems to be going up and down, and I know most if not all of us are experiencing the same in our own ways. This week has been tough, but as I struggled in moments of anxiety I realized that I have begun to understand Paul’s words in these verses. He tells us that in every situation when we seek God out, bringing every joy, pain, and all the in-betweens to Him He does not sit idly by. When we’ve emptied ourselves out to Him and made space for Him to fill us, fill us is precisely what He does.
‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ‘Philippians 4:4-8
A vital way to make space in our hearts for more of Him is to remember what we have to be thankful for. These days it seems a bit harder to see those things, but even Paul, while he is imprisoned for his faith, points out that there are always things to be thankful for. Paul says at the end of verse 8 “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
What is praiseworthy in your life right now?
Think about that. Don’t focus on what is going wrong; focus on those bits of light, patch them together, and see that there is so much more light than you realize. There is so much more to rejoice over than it seems. Let that light fill you and overflow from you, strengthening you.
‘I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.Philippians 4:12-13
No matter what phase of life you find yourself in, whether you have much or little, whether you are in peace or suffering, whether you have more questions than answers, you can get through all of it with Christ. Christ is in you, strengthening you, building you up from the inside out. Paul is calling on you to change, to empty yourself, to be transformed by the power of Christ.
‘Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. ‘1 Peter 4:12-13
No matter what tests you face or waters you wade through you will always have His glory and promises to look forward to, and His love and provisions to be thankful for. You can rejoice in your responsibility to imitate Christ and bring others to Him. You have a mission while you are here, and an incredible inheritance to look forward to. Never forget how worthy of praise this is. Rejoice always, because there truly is so much to rejoice over.
‘The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”’Zephaniah 3:17