Interestingly, Paul writes these famous words from a (Roman) prison.
Paul is in an extremely difficult place and his circumstances are far from pleasant or joyful. He is being held in stocks, amidst the overpowering stench of the sewers of Rome. And yet he is urging the Philippian church to rejoice. How does that even make sense, you say? He should be miserable in that miserable prison, right? How could he actually rejoice in this terrible scenario? Is Paul asking his readers to do something that he was not practicing himself?
Well, not really.
The crux of the issue is Paulâ€™s focus and trust. Though his situation was real and tough Paul kept his focus on the purpose of the gospel and eternity. He was willing to trust his Lord. He was willing to surrender to this Lord and find his refuge in Him. And so similarly, he is encouraging the Philippian church to rejoice. To rejoice, be joyful not because of their difficult circumstances, not because life is a bed of roses. But to rejoice, in the Lord.
To rejoice in the Lord, because you can trust Him and His purposes. To rejoice because you can find your refuge in Him. Rejoice because, in the worst of your circumstances, the Lord is still in absolute control and is with you, no matter what. To rejoice in the Lord is to look beyond your today, with hope to an eternity with Him.
Paul found his joy in the Lord, even in the most difficult situations. How about you?