Nick Vujicic is an Australian author, motivational speaker and evangelist. He surfs, plays with his kids, and travels the world. This might not sound very inspirational . . . until you discover that Nick was born without any limbs. Not only was growing up a physical challenge for him, his unique physique was also the source of bullying and emotional heartache.
Yet Nick came to discover that God could use his disabilities in remarkable ways to bring the hope and peace of Christ to others who are hurting. In Nick’s autobiography, Life Without Limits, he shares, “The . . . undeniable truth is that you and I have absolutely no control over what happens to us. But we can control how we respond. You can be buried by a giant wave, or you can ride it into shore.”
Earlier in the book of Philippians, Paul indicates that the believers in Philippi were facing some form of opposition (1:28). If Paul had asked them to respond to God based on how they were treated by other people, they would surely have felt hopeless. Yet Paul writes this exhortation to them from his shackles in prison: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) Paul doesn’t say to rejoice in the Lord sometimes. He says to rejoice in the Lord always.
We may not be imprisoned or persecuted for our faith. But many of us face hardships beyond our control. Rejoicing in the Lord may be the last thing we feel like doing. The good news is that we don’t have to muster the strength to rejoice on our own—it is God who enables us to do so (Philippians 4:13). All we need to do is keep our eyes fixed on the promise of God’s immeasurable love for us.
Perhaps Paul was able to rejoice in God despite his suffering because he could see God’s hand leading him in both the difficult times and good times. I experienced this last year when two of my good friends died within a few months of one another.
I was overwhelmed with grief. Aside from the sadness that welled within my heart, the sense of loss also evoked a deep anger. How could God allow this to happen? How could He take my friends away when they were still so young? What would I do without these people who brought me joy and laughter?
I was broken, unable to sing with joyful praise to my heavenly Father. All I could do was cry out to Him. And God met me in that place of pain. The Holy Spirit interceded on my behalf (Romans 8:26-27) and gave me a supernatural peace that I could not obtain by my own strength—and my perspective began to change. Instead of just mourning what I had lost, I began to rejoice in the knowledge that my friends are in a better place.
Going through this season of grief reminded me that being a follower of Christ does not mean life will always be easy. There will be hardships. There will be pain. There will be times when it feels too overwhelming and giving up seems like the only way out.
But the life of Paul and Nick Vujicic encourage us to see that it is possible to discover unimaginable joy when we put our hope in the One who calms the wind and the waves. Trust in God and, in time, He will turn our mourning into dancing and our sorrow into joy (Psalm 30:11-12). Don’t be buried by the wave, but learn to ride it to shore. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice!
—By Deborah Fox, Australia
Questions for reflection
- What does it look like for you to rejoice “in the Lord”? How does this verse change your perception of your circumstances?
- Are you facing any difficult situations now? Pray and ask God to help you view your situation from His perspective.
- Do you have a friend who is struggling? Think of ways you can be a blessing to them this week.