“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.” – Philippians 3:1 (NASB)
Sometimes, although we know we are to live with a spirit of joy and rejoice in that, we find it difficult. Circumstances hit us like a blind-side sacking of a quarterback. We feel crushed and our energy is sapped to nearly negative numbers. Paul’s familiar theme throughout the epistle has already been heard. But this time he adds “in the Lord.” This is the sphere in which a believer’s joy exists—a sphere which is unrelated to the circumstances of life, but related to an unassailable, unchanging relationship to the sovereign Lord. Some will title this letter by Paul to the Philippians as the ‘Joy Letter’ and it is not far off. The word “rejoice” is used eight times and “rejoiced” once by Paul. It seems from this repeated emphasis that the Christians in Philippi needed this word of encouragement. We too often need this as well. Most of God’s people need this challenge frequently. It’s so easy and natural for us to let circumstances discourage us. The cure for discouragement is to rivet one’s attention on the Lord and rejoice in Him. We can rejoice in the Lord even when situations make rejoicing seem impossible. It is not.
“For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.” – Psalm 138:6-7 (ESV)
It is wisdom to take God’s word to heart and to know that we will have times that our lives will be visited with trouble. Faith believers will know curses and abuse because we profess the name of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. David, the author of this psalm knew about this. In this psalm he expresses how the LORD should be praised. He is on high, but he looks to the lowly, not to the proud. Even in time of trouble, we trust God to preserve our life if it is His will – that is what David says here. The promise is that we can trust God for the protection even in the most extreme situations. Our circumstances may not be exactly what David faced and was writing about in this psalm but the promise is there for us if we ever do. The use of the term “right hand” here as in many other places is a figure of speech that represents God’s ultimate power and authority. The right hand of God is a symbol of power. It is also a symbol of His presence. God’s right hand is our life support (Isaiah 41:10).
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” Psalm 46:1-3 (KJV)
It was just a few days ago that we considered the promises from God’s Word found in the book of Isaiah. The promise was that even if mountains may depart and the hills be removed, God’s love would never fail to be here for us. Today we consider again a comparison of God’s attributes with mountains being moved, this time into the sea. God promises to be our refuge (shelter) from storms and danger. Such threats are around us all the time and we may not even know every time we are in such peril. Think of those who were on that jet that lost most of an engine. Disasters happen and we are not always protected from them happening but God here promises that He is still our refuge and strength. Strong enough even to bring us into His presence or see us safely home. Floods and earthquakes are uncontrollable and nearly unpredictable as are the crises and circumstances that might knock us off our feet. But God is and will be with us protecting us from fear and trouble. Let’s hold tightly to these promises today and next time disaster threatens, no matter what kind it is.