December 9, 2015
Philippians 4:4-7 – Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! ?5? Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. ?6? Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ?7? And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
These verses are very positive. They tell us to always be joyful and to never be afraid of anything. We should always be praying with thankfulness in our heart and we can have peace because of our God. That peace of God is beyond understanding because it is based on the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Only through our God can we have the protection that will help us endure.
That sounds fantastic. But what do we do when life throws us a curveball. There are times that we endure suffering simply because we live in a sinful world. But there are also times that God challenges us in unexpected ways. An example that comes to mind is when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. That would have been a very difficult request for Abraham.
God had promised him that he would be blessed with this son. And now Abraham is supposed to kill that son. That seems ridiculous. This son was very valuable to a father who had been waiting for 100 years to have a son. Now God is testing his faith. Does Abraham love God more than his son Isaac? Does Abraham trust God above all things? Does Abraham still believe that God is gracious?
Even thinking about the Philippians words, we might ask some of the following questions. How can Abraham rejoice at a time like this? How can he not be worried about the outcome? How can he be thankful toward God or even have peace in his heart? Is God truly guarding his heart and protecting his mind by asking this sacrifice of him?
Abraham showed that he truly did love God above all. He made the difficult decision to commit to the sacrifice of his son. He did this because he trusted God. The book of Hebrews tells us that he trusted so much in God’s grace that he trusted that God could even raise his son Isaac from the dead if that was necessary. Abraham was able to rejoice in spite of difficulty.
The same is true for us. We can rejoice in spite of difficulty. God doesn’t speak to us in exactly the same way he did to Abraham. He doesn’t come to us and ask us to sacrifice another human being. But he does ask us to make sacrifices. He does this through his Word. He wants us to fear, love, and trust in him above all things.
At times it is going to be very difficult to follow our God. We are going to have to make sacrifices in our lives to do the right thing. But we are joyful through all of this because we have a Savior in Jesus Christ. Even if this life is extremely difficult, we have an eternal home awaiting us because of the forgiveness that Jesus won for us on the cross. Because of that gospel message, we truly can “rejoice in the Lord always.”