"Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).
Here is a verse that is often glibly quoted, yet seldom fully applied. It rolls off the tongue easily during sunny days of ease, but is a tremendous challenge to live out during times of heartache, disappointment, and trial. But one of the keys to having our joy stand distinct from the world's mirth is found in the small word: alway.
The Scripture commands us always to rejoice. But what about when our dearest friends forsake us? Paul had experienced that. "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world" (II Timothy 4:10). And yet he still rejoiced in the Lord. But what about when we face a major disappointment in our endeavors? Paul had endured such failure and times of deprivation (Philippians 4:11) yet he commanded, "Rejoice in the Lord!" But what about when tremendous grief or a tragic accident strikes home? Shock and mourning are normal reactions. However, I Thessalonians 4:13 instructs, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." David wrote, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).
How about when we are misunderstood and mistreated? Paul had been imprisoned not far from the church to which he wrote in our text. In Philippi "when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them" (Acts 16:23-25). Paul had practiced what he was now preaching to the Philippian saints. Rejoice in the Lord always! DW