Philippians 4:4-9 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Rejoice in the Lord always. Rejoicing is easy when everything is going well, but what about those times when things aren’t going our way? What about the days that we are struggling? Well, according to Paul, we are supposed to rejoice on those days too. Paul wrote these words while he was in prison. He wasn’t sitting at his nice cozy kitchen table or out on the back deck listening to the creek trickle by. No, he was sitting in a prison cell writing to the Philippian church. Yet, he was still rejoicing. How could he be rejoicing from prison? He could rejoice because he found his joy in Christ and not in himself or his situation. If we look to Christ, no matter what difficulties arise through the day, we can still rejoice.
I laughed out loud last night while driving back from the cow field to our home. Jeff called me to see if I was busy and said he needed a hand at the barn. He was trying to separate some cows that he needed to sell today. I was in my bright teal t-shirt, capris, and sandals, and didn’t even consider that I needed to change before heading over to help him. I just jumped in my car and drove over. There was one steer that he was still trying to get into the barn, but there were about 9 or 10 other calves in the holding area that we needed to move back into the field. Me and my sandals chased calves up and down that holding area at dusk. I couldn’t see the ground well because it was almost dark, and I ran through a few piles of what I was praying was fresh mud although I knew it probably wasn’t. I got the calves down to the gate several times, but before we could get them through, they would turn around and run back to the other end of the holding area. I then ran behind them….all the way to the end of the lot….and chased them back to the gate again and again and again. There are several lessons to be learned here. First of all, don’t wear a bright teal shirt and sandals to pin cows. They don’t like bright colors, and my feet don’t like stepping in stuff that squishes between my toes! Secondly, you can’t pin cows at dark. They don’t do well when they can’t see. You can chase them, and they will run, but they won’t go where you want them to go.
I got into my car smelling like barnyard with cow poop on my capris, in between my toes, and all over my sandals. I was hot and sweaty and aggravated, but I laughed out loud, and I prayed, “I’m going to keep rejoicing in you Lord. I’m struggling, but I’m rejoicing.” I washed my feet with the water hose before entering the house and threw my sandals in the washer and myself in the shower, and I thought about this scripture. Those cows aggravated me tonight. I could have let that ruin my mood for the night or even for the whole week, but instead, I remembered that the little aggravating details of my day do not define me or my mood. My joy comes from Christ, and I will rejoice in Him no matter what comes my way. Now, I realize that wrestling a herd of cows is nothing compared to the struggle Paul endured while in prison. I realize that nothing I endure on a daily basis can even come close to the suffering that our Lord and Savior endured on the cross for my sins. But I also realize that because my Savior loves me that much, because He was the ultimate sacrificial lamb for my sins, because of His grace and His mercy, I can rejoice no matter what situation comes my way!
We can rejoice because the King is still on His throne! Death did not defeat Him. He is still our King. We can rejoice because we do not have to fight to gain victory! No, my friends, the victory has already been won by our Savior. We can rejoice knowing what our good God has done all of this for us and rejoice in who He is! I’m not going to say we won’t have aggravations today. It’s Monday. There is a full moon in the sky. Things may get a bit crazy, but even when the world gets crazy, we don’t have to let it get us down. Nope! We can rejoice in the Lord always. Turn that frown upside down and rejoice in the Lord today!