Lenten Reader | Day 31


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.

- Philippians 4:4-9
“Rejoice!” Oh, but how, Lord? Sickness is rampant, money is low, my happiness is wavering, our country is…a mess, relationships are so hard, and on and on the list goes. How can we possibly ‘rejoice’ amid all this pain and uncertainty? It’s interesting that Paul throws in here “let your gentleness be evident to all.” Is that because when I’m anxious I am possibly snippy and not kind and gentle??

When Paul wrote this he was in prison, and yet he knew the answer to all our worries, fears, anxieties, and frustrations was to rejoice. “And the peace of God…will guard your hearts and minds…” makes me think of an armor or shield that keeps the worry and anxiety from penetrating. So, my thankfulness, my rejoicing in who God is, is what protects me from getting taken over by fear, worry, and anxiety.

So, how do I just stop being anxious? The answer is to rejoice always, be thankful, and keep our heads out of the dumps. We stop focusing on the problem and do exactly what Paul tells us here. We think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. The worst-case scenario, which is where my mind goes when I’m in worry, is not any of these. What is these things is who God is, what God has done already in my life, and what I see Him doing.

What does rejoicing look like in a difficult circumstance? For me, it is asking God to open my eyes to see what he sees, and to love like He loves. It is looking for every possible piece of evidence that God has been at work and thanking Him for that. It is remembering how God has been faithful in the past and trusting He will be faithful again. It is surrendering my will and how I want to see things happen and saying instead, “Lord, your will be done. I will accept your plan, not my own.” And if nothing else, it is simply acknowledging that God is good, and He has good plans. God’s love is great, and I can thank Him for his redeeming grace.

- Darcy Bonds
Father, help me to rejoice. Help me find the connection between gentleness and rejoicing. It is so difficult for me to rejoice sometimes. I need you.