Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4
Paul gives us this simple but firm command to rejoice, and not just sometimes but always! But has Paul lost his mind, has he not endured any difficult circumstances? Some would argue that given their life’s circumstances there is no way they could rejoice. Therefore, Paul must not have experienced anything similarly difficult. So, let’s take a minute and look at Paul’s life. In Acts 16 Paul and Silas are stripped naked, beaten, then severely flogged. Flogging would have ripped hunks of flesh off their bodies. This would have left them covered in gapping, open flesh wounds, and at death’s door. The point of the flogging was to let “fate” determine whether or not they lived. Then Paul and Silas are placed in the “inner cell” with their feet fastened in stocks. The inner cell could be described as a cistern or even septic tank. It would have most likely been below ground level and holding waste water or other waste material. Now imagine all that dirty water and waste getting into their open wounds. How do Paul and Silas respond? In verse 25 it says that at about midnight they were praying and singing hymns to God. The reason they were singing at midnight is you can’t sleep when you are in that much pain and locked in stocks. They certainly had every right by the world’s standards to be in pretty foul moods. Not the time or the place you would expect to be rejoicing. But that’s exactly what they did, rejoice! How, how could they do that at such a time? Because they had been with Jesus, they had seen Jesus. They know what Jesus is about to do and what Jesus had called them to. They had their eyes, their,
hope, and their trust completely on Jesus.
In the midst of whatever difficult circumstances you are facing, keep your eyes completely on Jesus. What we are facing is not as difficult as what Paul went through or what Jesus went through on the cross. But Jesus, (and Paul) have been there and know what we are going through. Keep your eyes on Jesus and follow Paul’s command to rejoice! The story in Acts 16 ends with God breaking open the prison with an earthquake. Rejoicing on earth brings the resources of heaven.