Now you know Paul is the person who said in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice always and again I say, rejoice. Always. Let me say that again in case you thought it was an overstatement: ‘Always rejoice. Always rejoice. Always rejoice.’”
That’s the Paul who wrote Romans 9:2 which goes like this, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
You see what this anguish is? “This is the anguish of my family going to hell. I don’t think I can bear this.” Right? That’s what he’s saying. “They’re cut off from Christ. They’re cursed. They’re walking away from their Messiah, and I’m doing everything that I can to commend Christ to them and they’re not receiving it. In fact, they’re calling me an imposter. They’re slandering me. O, God, every day I bear this. Every day I bear this. This is an unceasing anguish.” That’s the one who said, “Rejoice always. And again, I say, ‘rejoice.’”
“What the world needs to see most from the church is a durable joy in and through sorrow.”
So, is he disobeying his command in Philippians 4:4? Second Corinthians 6:10 is the answer: no. He is sorrowful. Indeed, he’s in anguish daily. And always rejoice. If I look around at you and ache to find somebody who’s risen into this or sunk into this. This is us, Christian. This is us. Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. Weep with those who weep. Somebody’s always weeping.
So, picture yourself now at a table at your favorite restaurant across from a person that you love. You’d give your life for them in a minute — in a minute. You’d jump in front of a train or take a bullet for them in a minute. You’re sitting across the table from them at your favorite restaurant. They’ve heard you share the gospel with them and they’ve rejected it. And you say to them, “I want so bad for you to believe.” And God gives you the grace of tears — deep love. “I want so bad for you to believe. I want you to be a follower of Jesus. I want you to have eternal life. I want us to be together forever with Jesus. I don’t want to lose you. I don’t think I can bear this like a stone I carry in my chest.”
What is that? What’s that? That’s sorrowful yet always rejoicing, and it may be a gift they’ve never heard before. It’s not chipper. The last thing they need right now is something trite. They don’t need anything like that. They don’t need your pain, and they don’t need your painless joy. They need both. That’s what so unusual. That’s what’s so tangy. That’s what’s so bright. That’s what the world needs from the church: sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.
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