Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Recently a number of people I know and love have experienced losses and challenges. One lost an elderly mother. Another a middle age friend. Another struggles with her sister’s extreme mental illness and drug addiction. Friends had an emergency room scare with their son. Under such circumstances it would seem difficult to rejoice. How am I to rejoice in such circumstances?
There’s the key: our calling as Christians is to rejoice “in the Lord.” That can happen in the midst of all circumstances. We are called to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). But our joy is not to be tied to circumstances, but to our relationship with our Lord. In his presence, goodness, faithfulness, and gift of eternal salvation we find true joy. Those aspects of the life of the believer never change.
That is also shown in the invitation in these verses: we are to pray about anything and everything. Rather than worrying about anything, we are to pray about everything on our hearts. This is a blank check; “anything” and “everything” are superlatives. These two words throw open the windows of heaven so that we may voice our prayers with confidence that God will hear and answer.
This knowledge will guard our hearts from feelings of anxiety, anger, bitterness and despair. An intentional expression of joy toward God will bring a peace that we can never manufacture by the greatest efforts of positive thinking. It’s more than the human mind can do. Jesus’ greeting on that first Easter is more than a greeting; it is a gift, “Peace.” That is a gift for which we may rejoice eternally.