"Rejoice always!" declares Paul. In rejoicing we give witness to the joy that is at the heart of our Christian faith. Rejoicing, though, is not easy when joy seems to be in short supply. We live at a time where there is a desperate need for joy: a planet in crisis due to global warming, ever-widening economic disparities, threats and acts of terror and wars that continue to rage. The list could go on and on. How can we rejoice in a time such as this? Should we even rejoice in the midst of this world of pain?
Genuine Christian joy is not something we can create or manufacture. It is not a goal to be pursued. Surprising, unexplainable, unpredictable joy is related to the act of intercession of which Paul speaks. Joy is deeply connected with sharing in the pain of others.
Philippians 4:4-7 (NRSV)
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.