Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4
The word translated ‘rejoice’ means to be cheerful or calmly happy. But the object of our cheerfulness is not ourselves and our pleasant circumstances, for we know that we do not always live and work in pleasant circumstances. Life can be difficult, stressful and challenging in certain seasons. For some right now, that may be every day. The object of our cheerfulness is the Lord Jesus Christ. In HIM we find the cheerfulness. Rejoicing is linked with Joy. Joy as we know is one of the nine fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit as He fills us and works in and through us.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
One of the blessings of living the Christian life is to have that joy in the middle of the most difficult and challenging circumstances in life.
I remember at the start of the year 2001 saying to my wife Mary; “This is going to be a difficult year.” I think God had shown me this to get our hearts ready. I had no idea at the time what was to follow, and perhaps God in His wisdom shields us from the knowledge of the future and asks us simply to trust Him day by day. Jesus said; “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Later that January I received an exhortation from the Lord in my daily devotions, a verse from scripture:
Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
We were in the middle of moving house, Mary was pregnant with our second child. We had just moved to temporary accommodation at the start of February. Sadly on 26 Feb 2001 we lost our baby. It remains one of the most difficult times in our married lives. We were overwhelmed with pain in our hearts. We had not experienced grief like this. During all of this, the words of the scripture kept ringing in our ears; Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. We had to really lean in to the Lord and practice what had been shown to us in a scripture which turned out to be preparation for what we were now living in.
How can we be joyful in the middle of grief? How can we keep praying? How can we give thanks in these circumstances? What can we give thanks for? Yet, the discipline of putting this into practice carried us through that tragedy. It took intentionality on our part, to daily, and throughout the day, put these things into practice. It came out in out prayers. It came out in our choices; to keep worshipping God, to keep our hearts right before God, to keep our confession positive, and, the power of fellowship with other Christians became strength for us.
Our faith was sorely tested. The enemy wanted us crushed. But we learned to depend on God in a new way. We found our peace and purpose in Him. We also became so conscious of the prayers of our church family. It was so strong that it felt like a wall to lean back on when we could hardly stand.
Not only does Paul say rejoice in the Lord, he repeats it; I will say it again; rejoice! There are seasons in life where it is easy to rejoice, but it’s in the difficult seasons where our rejoicing brings glory to God. It is in the difficult seasons that we know there is no other way we can rejoice than to remain in Him.
Philippians 4:4; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18