When is the last time you had an experience that truly shook you to your core? I’m not talking about being a little flustered. No y’all, I’m talking about the foundation of the world as you know it shook. Maybe it was a recent natural disaster. We’ve had crazy weather that can do that in an instant. Or what about a sudden illness or loss to your family. Now you know where I’m going. I’m talking about being shaken to the core so much that you find yourself on your knees. It’s the only realistic place to be, because the only thing that can possible help this situation is God.
The last several months in my life have been core shaking, and even jaw dropping. You’ve heard me speak about my Dad, who has been a life long alcoholic and emotionally abusive for the last 40 years, end up in the hospital. It’s been an experience that drove me to see God in a major way. Y’all, I thought I was a pretty prayerful chick up until now, but no amount of prayer could have prepared me for what I was going to face. In 3 short months I faced true forgiveness head-on, desperation, fear, and a multitude of other emotions where all I could do was to trust God like never before, and learn to find contentment in the storm.
Tonight I’m reading Philippians 4:4-11. Paul’s writing speaks to my deepest soul. He says,”Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
I’d like to think that we could cover the beauty of this entire passage tonight, but there is just no possible way. No ya’ll, this is going to take a while. Tonight we will focus on only “Rejoice in the Lord always”. We’ll visit the rest tomorrow. Dear Sister, this passage is so full of peace, hope, optimism, and so many other adjectives I would truly bore you by listening them all. Let’s take some time to take this apart, and really see where Paul is coming from. First, Rejoice in the Lord always. Always means in any situation, in any circumstance, and at all times. When the walls are crumbling down on your shoulders, when the world is caving in around you, when the darkest of dark seems to have overtaken you…then, rejoice! Rejoice means to give great delight, to show joy. So get this dear sister, when you face the deepest darkest, soul shaking experience in your life…when you have no idea how you are going to take one more step, it is then that you must show joy to the Lord.
Now I don’t know about you y’all, but when this sister gets hurt, discouraged, and beaten down to the point of not being about to raise my head. When my tears overtake me to a point of not being able to produce words, and I’m barely able to breathe, I’m certainly not thinking about showing joy! There is nothing delightful about that place. So why on earth would Paul tell us to rejoice? Well, it’s quite simple dear sister…God is with you, and that alone is the reason to rejoice. Are you breathing? Rejoice. Are you cared for? Rejoice Did you face that horrible surgery and come out alive on the other side? Rejoice Did God take someone you love home with Him? Did it break you heart beyond measure. Oh dear sister…you must rejoice. That one is tough isn’t it. When we hurt, and feel empty, and can’t take another step in the face of loss…Rejoice, for God is with you. Rejoice, the family that remains needs you. Rejoice, God has a plan for you. Oh dear sister…Rejoice.
Our rejoicing isn’t to be continually because we are happy in the face of horrible, heartbreaking circumstances. No, God does not expect that of us. Even Jesus cried. We are to rejoice because Our Father will never leave our side. Our Father collects every tear that we shed. That’s how much He loves us. That’s how much He loves you! Dear Sister, when the world caved in around you, He was there. God held your hand so you could weather that storm. Oh, and if He left you on this earth broken, torn, and worn…it’s because He needs you. You heard me right! God needs you! He has plans for you. Be it to share your testimony of how He saved you, or to provide support to others who experienced loss like you…God…needs…you. He is absolutely crazy about you. He loves you beyond measure. He is your protector, your Savior, your biggest cheerleader. He is your Daddy, Abba, Father, Beginning and End. He is ALL that matters in this life. He created you, chose you, loves you, has forgiven you, and will live eternity with you. No matter how horrible your experiences dear Sister, you must hold onto this…God loves you…now, Rejoice.