“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4)
Have you ever thought of what it means to rejoice? What should be the Christians motivation to do so? What, exactly, are we rejoicing about? I think its best explained in a story:
In the year 490 B.C., the Persian Army, seeking to invade Greece, landed a large force 26 miles outside of Athens. The huge army disembarked from their warships and gathered on the plains of a place called Marathon. There they prepared to attack the Greek Army and establish their presence in Europe.
The Greeks were outnumbered 4 to 1, but they launched a surprise offensive thrust against the Persians. At the time the plan appeared suicidal; but by day’s end, 6400 Persian bodies lay dead on the field while only 192 Greek soldiers had been killed. The surviving Persians fled to sea and headed south to Athens where they hoped to attack the city before the Greek Army could re-assemble there. With no word of the Greek victory, the Persians believed the city would surrender.
A young messenger named Phidippides was called upon to run the distance to Athens. He was to carry the good news of the victory and warn the Athenians about the approaching Persian ships. Phidippides was already tired from another long run and from having fought in heavy armor against the Persians. But seeing the need to carry the truth to his countrymen, Phidippides rose to the challenge. Pushing himself past the normal limits of human endurance, Phidippides ran the 26 miles to Athens in about 3 hours. As he stumbled into the city he gasped to the leaders, “Rejoice, we conquer!” and died. Hearing the news, the Athenians held on until the Army arrived. The battle was won. The enemy was defeated. No surrender was necessary. (Sermoncentral.com)
When Paul was telling the Philippians to rejoice, he was doing so because, in Christ, the battle over sin, death and the devil has been won. Satan wants us to believe that his battle with God still rages. He wants us to think that there is a chance that he will win. Not so. While he can cause misery here, make no mistake, he has already been defeated.
At one time, all we had was the law to save us, but God would never let that rest. From the beginning of creation, God had a plan to fulfill the law that we could not, by sacrificing His own Son in our place. Because of sin, we were doomed to die without hope because sin required it. Yet God loved us enough to fulfill that sentence of death with the perfect sacrifice and now we have reason to rejoice. The battle has been won. It is safe to defend the kingdom. The army is on the way.
This promise is what gave Isaiah the inspiration to say, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).
We have much for which to rejoice in because God never gave up on us. Though we have great fault, he continues to offer His grace and mercy. Though we give Him cause for sorrow, He gives us every reason to rejoice.
Living in a world marred by sin and death, its easy to lose ourselves in the trials of life. We see, all around us, the results of our fallen nature. We grieve because it seems like the world has lost its way. All this brings about the danger of someone getting lost in the negativity and strife.
But, as Christians, we have everything to hope for, because we know that living in this world is only the beginning of our everlasting life. Better things are to come because of Christ. This prospect allows us to change our attitude so that we might notice all we have to rejoice in, even in a world that seems lost.
Here God has given us family and friends, house and home, food and drink, laughter and joy. We can see glimpses of our life to come in heaven all around us and for that we have reason to rejoice.
May you find your reason to rejoice in all that God has done for you and has prepared for you. May your joy be full even as you wait for better things to come. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, You have give us so many reasons to rejoice, chief among them Your Son Jesus Christ. Help us to have an attitude of rejoicing in all things, even in our sufferings. Amen.