Paul was a man who “walked his talk”. No doubt as he wrote these words to the church in Philippi, he thought back to his experience in the Philippian jail when he and Silas were worshipping and rejoicing in the Lord while in chains. It was during that time of worship and rejoicing that the Lord caused an earthquake that freed all the prisoners from their chains (Acts 16:25-26).
It’s hard to imagine a more difficult circumstance in which to rejoice. Paul was not only in a jail physically chained, but he was there unjustly. Yet, in spite of the unpleasant and unjust circumstances, Paul was able to rejoice!
This vividly illustrates for us the fact that our ability to rejoice should not depend upon our immediate circumstances, but rather on the certainty of what we have in Christ. Paul expresses this here when he writes that we should “Rejoice in the Lord…”.
As physicians, we encounter many unpleasant duties or circumstances that may threaten to take away our joy. It is never pleasant to give bad news to a patient, or watch a patient worsen in spite of our best efforts. Suffering never makes sense. But joy is grounded in what the Lord has already done for us and should not be shaken by immediate circumstances. As Paul reminds us in Phil. 3:20- “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ…”
As believers in Jesus Christ, our true citizenship is in heaven. We have in store for us the same inheritance as Paul. We can follow Paul’s example and have the ability to rejoice always when our hope and joy is centered on what lies ahead for us…in heaven.
This is not something that comes automatically, but rather through conscious effort. We place our hope and joy on what lies ahead by continually reminding ourselves that our citizenship is not in this world. Our destiny is not dependent upon success or failure in this world. Our hope and joy is secure, having already been accomplished through the work of Christ. Remember that, and you will be able to rejoice!
Prayer: Lord, remind me that my citizenship is in heaven so that I may rejoice in You. Amen