Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7
I may not know you personally but I am going to guess that these few verses for Philippians 4 are at least somewhat familiar to you. But have you ever considered what kind of command God is placing on your life when you read this verse?
I can honestly say that this verse really had little to no bearing on my life up until about four and a half years ago. Then, God turned my whole life upside down: He allowed my wife and I to destroy our marriage of seven years. I had always considered myself to be a Christian but the truth of the matter was I was no more a Christian than I was the man in the moon. I was an angry man who did not know how to be a godly husband, father or leader in my house. I certainly did not know how to rejoice in the Lord.
So, I am guessing that by now you are wondering just what does any of this have to do with rejoicing in the Lord always. Well, it has everything to do with it! Romans 8:28 tells us “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
One purpose for my marriage falling apart was so that God could be glorified when he put it back together. But He did not do this until after I found myself on my knees, crying out to Jesus to fix what we could not.
Another purpose was for God to lead us to a new church. God started to teach us what it meant to rejoice Him through being in his Word and to hunger for a relationship with the true living God.
But He was not done yet, for he had laid on the heart of my wife a deep desire to go on missions. That was where I was ready to make my stand and say no! There was no way that we were going to become missionaries! I had plenty of reasons why: it costs too much, I can’t get the time off work, I don’t have the skills, we have children… I am scared.
I am now going to let you in on a little secret: none of that matters! It is all disobedience on my part for Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:18-19: “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
I don’t know how it can get any clearer than that. Jesus has clearly placed a command on us and anything less is disobedience to the Creator and Perfector of our faith.
Thankfully, our Father is a loving Father, full of mercy and grace who is willing to teach us and sanctify us. He wants us to be obedient without being anxious. I praise God that he has taken that fear of submitting to the command of Jesus in Matthew 28:18-19 and has now replaced with a building joy and excitement as my first mission trip draws near. God has done this mighty work by teaching me to take everything to God in prayer and supplication and to give him praises of thankfulness in the good times and the tough times and yes, even rejoicing that he has moved me to go to India on a mission trip, for our God is greater than all our fears.
Praise God that he offers us a peace which surpasses all understanding! My prayer for you is that the Lord our God will teach you how to rejoice in the Lord always; that he will help you to not be anxious when faced with the things that scare us the most, such as sharing the gospel or going on a mission trip. We need to remember that one of the most repeated commands in the Bible is “Fear Not.” So, I pray that God help you fear not by causing you to trust in him wholly.