A Brief Meditation for the Month

October 2019

If we follow the life and ministry of Paul, the apostle, we will be aware of his many and varied trials and troubles. They appeared to be constantly his lot in the course of his ministry. Yet, regardless of these experiences, Paul had no complaints. Rather, he viewed his afflictions as a necessary requisite if he was to be instrumental in the spread of the gospel. He testified, “I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” 2Timothy 2:10. Saul of Tarsus, the relentless persecutor of Christ’s followers, confessed to Christ, that he imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on him, and that he was a consenting witness to the martyrdom of Stephen. (Acts 22:19–20) Commissioned however, as the apostle to the Gentiles, he devoted every part of his being, as it were, to present Christ in the gospel to lost and perishing sinners, wherever he found them. He, who previously so vigorously opposed the gospel, expressed great gratitude to the Saviour, for calling him to such a ministry, 1Timothy 1:11–13. In fact, the apostle wrote to the Colossian believers, telling them that he rejoiced in his sufferings for their sakes, Colossians 1:24. The record of Paul’s missionary ministry, testifies to his personal joy, even in the midst of great hardships, as he pursued the advancement of Christ’s kingdom.

With confidence that he personally had many reasons to be a joyful and happy man, the apostle encouraged other believers to appreciate their own numerous reasons to rejoice also. Writing to the Christians in Philippi, he appealed to them, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again, I say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4. Paul was able to tell the Philippian believers of the source of his joy when he wrote, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly,” Philippians 4:10. Whatever the secondary causes, Paul was confident that the Lord was the real source or fountain of his joy. When corresponding with the Galatians, the same apostle referred to the believer’s joy as the fruit of the Spirit, which is borne in the life of faith. Galatians 5:22. Unlike natural fruit which grows best in fertile conditions, and in a healthy environment, this is spiritual fruit, borne even in adverse conditions. The dear believer who can say by faith, “Thou art my portion, O LORD,” (Psalm 119:57) has everything to put joy and gladness into his or her soul. Nehemiah was able to incite rejoicing in the experience of God’s tried people, by telling them “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10.

Because the child of God has many reasons for being happy in the Lord, this does not diminish the reality of sorrow in his or her experience. In real life, the believer may be often cast down or discouraged. There are often periods of deep sorrow throughout the lives of God’s people, yet they always have a source of real joy. This was the case with the apostle, and thus he wrote of his experience to the Corinthians, “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” 2Corinthians 6:10. Perhaps the Old Testament prophet puts it all into proper perspective in his testimonial; “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17–18. Dear child of God: rejoice in the Lord. Be joyful in the God of your salvation. Whatever your lot in providence, “rejoice in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 3:3.

G. G. Hutton.