“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Did you catch the way Paul writes these lines in Philippians?

Always [my wife gets upset when I use that word but always means “in every instance, for all time.”]

Paul says it again, this time capitalized and with an exclamation mark.

Do you think he is trying to make a point?

I think so.  Paul is trying to communicate that it is important to be able to rejoice about our lives, no matter what life throws at you.

Pastor Chan talks about his encounter with stress and all of us have that to deal with that.  We can relate.  His stress manifested itself in heart palpitations.

They are not fun.

I was with my young son when he came home from college to celebrate Christmas with his family.  I remember all six foot four inches of him stretched out over the bed with his hands clutched to his chest tell us that he heart was about to burst out of his body.  Maybe that was a bit dramatic but the boy was not feeling well at the time.  Stress.

We took him to the emergency room to find out that he was overwhelmed with his life at that point and he was having a tough time coping.  Stress.

Pastor Chan’s heart palpitations were due to the mountain of pastoral duties that he felt he had to perform at Christmastime.

His take on his palpitations was different.  He knew Paul’s message and if you know anything about Francis Chan, he takes the word of God quite literally.  How could he be stressed out?  He was supposed to be rejoicing in the Lord.   God had commanded him to rejoice and he as not rejoicing at all; he was having heart palpitations.  Chan takes it even further; he feels he is disobeying God because he is letting his responsibilities as a pastor trump God’s command.

Worry and stress are sins.

Have you ever thought about that?

My wife and I have talked about that before.  When we are worried and stressed, it seems “bad”.  It seems like we are not trusting God to take care of our troubles. You know the familiar straight talk from Jesus in Matthew 6: 25-27:  “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?   And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”

That’s pretty clear isn’t it?

Pastor Chan says that worry and stress “reek of arrogance.”

Wow Susan and I have a lot of repenting to do I guess.

When we are in the midst of a stress and worry causing crisis, we forget God.  We forget that we have been forgiven.  We forget that life is short and God has it covered [literally]. We forget we are heading to a place where we won’t ever have to worry again and finally, in the context of what God is juggling, our little worries and stresses are small indeed.

We just forget.

Life is short, God has control and He will take care of you regardless.

As Christians, our job is to “rejoice in the Lord always.”

As we do and people see that we do, it sends a powerful message, that we are seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness and we know all these things we need for life will be given to us.*

“I will say it again: Rejoice!”

*Paraphrase of Matthew 6: 33.

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