Prepare – Philippians 4:4–13
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 know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
As I think about contentment, I am reminded of Horatio G. Spafford. A successful lawyer with a lovely wife Anna, five adorable children, and a flourishing business, Horatio could say life was going “well.” In 1871, however, their son died of pneumonia and the great Chicago fire engulfed his business. Two years later, his wife and four daughters were aboard an ocean liner that sank into the Atlantic. Then, the telegram arrived: “Saved alone, what shall I do?” It was Anna. Horatio boarded the next available ship to meet her. On their return journey, the captain pointed over the ship rail to show the Spaffords where their daughters went down. Horatio then took out his journal and wrote the hymn “It Is Well with My Soul.”
Paul uses the words “joy” and “rejoice” sixteen times in 104 verses, and twice in Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Paul didn’t write these words from comfort; he wrote them from chains, for he had “learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (4:11).
When I reflect on the suffering the Spaffords and Paul endured, I wonder if I could say “it is well.” Could you? It’s hard to know until we’re standing along the ship rail. And in those times, I hope we remember we are “well” not because of our circumstances but because of our Savior, who has mapped out a mission for us on earth and prepared a place for us in heaven. No matter how much we lose, we have infinitely more in Jesus.
JOY is contentment: Jesus first, Others second, You third. Look to Jesus, and Jesus will look after you. How will you find joy amidst the most challenging parts of your day?
~ Pastor Steven Dunkel