It is said that repetition is at the heart of learning. Think about how you learned the basics of language, math, the names of countries around the world, how to play the piano … lots and lots of practice and repetition. And let us not forget Scripture memorization! Repetition is the key.
Paul seems to understand that in this short verse from Philippians. He seems to understand that we need repetition to learn how to rejoice:
Philippians 4 (New Revised Standard Version)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry 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.
This may have been one of the first scriptures I ever memorized. How about you? It comes to us as a reminder that no matter what is happening in the world, no matter how bad the news is in your community, regardless of earthly concerns and pressures, we are invited to rejoice in the name of the Lord, because he is near.
Paul goes on to advise that we replace worry with prayer, and add in a healthy dose of supplication and thanksgiving. That’s pretty clever, if you ask me. When we focus our thoughts on our blessings, when we adopt a heart of gratitude, and when we submit our situation to God’s will, we can find a reason to rejoice, if only in knowing that God gives us a peace that the world can’t give.
In the fourteenth chapter of John, Jesus says, ”Peace I leave with you. MY peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. So do not let your hearts be troubled, and neither let them be afraid.”
I met a woman yesterday who has been out of work for months. Her husband lost his job also. She has been praying and praying about this. She told me that she received an unexpected answer to her prayer: while they still wait on jobs, God gave her patience and peace for the waiting. Her anxiety has been replaced with thanksgiving. I told her to watch now for her miracle to come.
This peace is something we can’t understand. But this peace will serve as a guard to our hearts and minds in Jesus. Isn’t that a good reason to rejoice?
And so again, I say, rejoice!