Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
–Philippians 4:4 ESV
For some reason I cannot recall, I was chosen to give the inspirational thought prior to the Sunday evening service when I was a junior in college. While I was not a budding preacher, I did see this as an opportunity to get some experience in public speaking so was excited. I really liked Philippians 4:4, so I chose that verse for the event. Now, have you ever had the experience where you thought you had something to say but when it came time to “share it” a little voice inside said, “maybe it’s not as shareable or as good as you thought,” and then you choke? Yup. I choked.
Staring out at a few thousand people that night, my thoughts on Philippians didn’t feel impressive any longer. In fact, I was pretty sure that Paul had it wrong. How could he command everyone to feel happy all the time? Surely, the kind of shallow “joy” I was used to seeing on my Christian campus was not in view here. So, a bit chagrined by my own doubt in the moment, I mumbled something about being joyful all the time into the mic and then stumbled off the stage.
All these years later, it strikes me as humorous I’d be writing on “joy” and enjoying it. So, what is Paul saying to the Philippian church and to us? Digging a litter deeper into the word itself, we find that chairo (rejoice) is built from the Greek root char (wellbeing or favorably disposed) and is interconnected with charis (grace). Simply put, chairo (rejoice) means, “to be glad by grace,” which seems to change the command to something more like an invitation and desire on Paul’s part. It’s like he is saying, “I want you to delight in God’s grace and literally enjoy it, to be conscious of it as an ongoing part of your life. Even though you are up against trying times, I want you to taste God’s goodness and bask in His smile and love for you.”
It’s my prayer for you, as well. I pray your joy becomes full as you discover more and more of God’s graciousness in your life—His deep and passionate love for you, in you, and even through you. Circumstances may be a challenge right now, but no matter. God’s delight in you is something you can rest in and find cause to actually rejoice. I pray this becomes a habit for you.
ACTION: Take a minute to ponder God’s goodness in your life. List the points you feel He was not there as well as the times you felt His overwhelming presence. In both cases, as you sit with those stories, what do you want to say to Him? What might your rejoicing look like in these stories?