This week has been a difficult week for many personal reasons. I’ve had people telling me about several different people who used to attend FCC Murfreesboro, but now go to different churches, because of personal or minor doctrinal disagreements. Can I admit it hurts? Some of it is very personal, some is not, but it still hurts. Yet, I’ve been preaching this same thing: if someone comes to our church, is a saved believer, and yet goes to a different church due to differences of non-essential opinion, and the church is sound, biblically, we, as a church, should rejoice, because we do not lose siblings in Christ over such matters! We should seek to be unified with the Church in Spirit and Truth, as Jesus said we should! Personal reasons also hit. The risk of following God’s call is a great one, and, that God has called us 1500 miles from where we grew up, the risk of knowing family and friends could get sick, injured, or even die, and we’d not be able to be there, was something we knew would happen. This week it happened within our family, and helplessness is not something I do well. Trying to console my wife, who’s hurting, because she can’t be there to comfort her family tears me up.
What is my hope, then, knowing I am in God’s will, and yet hurting as I do? The answer is in, as always, Scripture. And this is something, believers, we need to talk about: Rejoicing always! James says to count it all joy when we go through trials, because such things produce in us endurance (James 1:2). The Author of Hebrews says that Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame, for the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). And, we’re reminded, that though sorrow lasts for the night, His joy comes with the morning (Psalm 30:5).
Have we stopped to consider pain as a process by which joy is produced? The joy isn’t in the painful experience, no, it’s in the faith in our Creator that is produced. Though it is not the only way, pain often draws us closer to our Creator, because we learn through it to focus on Him, to depend on Him, to be comforted by Him, and to trust in Him. This is why we need to rejoice always! Because God is always on the throne, no matter what our personal circumstances dictate, we have no reason for sorrow, or to be victimized by our circumstances. This is why saints sing and sang praises as they have been tortured, burned alive, killed in various ways and imprisoned for thousands of years. Because in the Lord, we have hope. This life is temporary. We’re reminded of that more and more every day. The Lord God is eternal, so all of my hope is in Him, and He will make my joy complete. Christ has victory over sin and death and will reconcile all things to Himself, what have I to fear? I will rejoice! Philippians 4:1-13 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.