Paul wrote a letter to the church in Philippi while he was in jail. In that letter, he says many things about the goodness of God. His attitude is summed up in these words . . .
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4–7)
I’ve not researched ancient Middle Eastern prisons, yet I’m certain they were not plush places with warm, comfortable beds and a television set for every prisoner. In some parts of that world even today, if family does not bring food, the prisoners go hungry. In Paul’s case, not only was he locked up, but he was locked up unjustly. Yet this disciple of Jesus Christ praised God and was full of joy.
A few decades before Paul, a young girl was visited by an angel and told she would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Unlike today, she faced shame. She would be accused of fornication and shunned by her family and peers. The Law said she should die for her supposed immorality and her fiancé considered sending her away. She was in a prison of a different kind, yet like Paul, she praised God with great joy . . .
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior . . . ” (Luke 1:46–47)
How is it that these and countless others since them have joyfully suffered, even joyfully faced a martyr’s death? Isn’t it because they have discovered how to rejoice in Jesus Christ as their beloved Savior? The Bible even says that the joy of the Lord is our strength. With joy and praise, we can face anything.
Charles Spurgeon says that anyone who cannot praise God must fear for their destiny. A saving relationship with the Almighty produces prayer and praise with joy. These are sure signs of a true-born heir of heaven. For this, the Lord also removes from us the praise and love of lesser things and gives the grace to love him and praise Him above all else.
And why not? God freely forgives the greatest sin and is willing to cleanse the very worst sinner. He proves His great love in giving Christ to die, the just for the unjust, that He may bring sinners to God. I am becoming more and more excited to glorify and rejoice in Him. Regardless of how I leave this world, I want to be singing His praises when that sun goes down.