“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Did you catch Paul’s command? Not only to rejoice but ALWAYS rejoice. “Always” you say? Yes…always.
- “When certain friendships continue to spiral downward and break even more?” Yup. Rejoice in the Lord.
- “When my spouse and I are failing at communicating and seem to find more harmful words than loving ones?” Yup. Rejoice in the Lord.
- “When my children walk away from their relationship with God?” Yup. Rejoice in the Lord.
- “When my spouse is diagnosed with cancer?” Yup. Rejoice in the Lord.
- “When I lose my job?” Yup. Rejoice in the Lord.
Paul’s words to us make sense because we should rejoice in the Lord. But the problem that can happen is that many times I don’t feel like rejoicing. When I am sad or hurting the last thing I want to do is put on a “happy face for Jesus.” Rejoicing does not take place when a loved one is taken from us. “Happiness” in the midst of sorrow does not seem to be compatible with one another. But is that really what we are called to do? Are we being told that we should always find happiness and be joyful? Is Paul saying that because we are believers in God that we should always be positive because Jesus loves me?
In some circumstances scripture is quite clear that we should rejoice regardless of the situation we find ourselves in (Psalm 118:24; 5:11; Romans 5:3-4) but let us not tether the word “rejoice” with either “happiness” or even being joyful. Happiness is a feeling and being joyful is a state of mind. Rejoice? That’s a command. Rejoicing is something we do, an internal place we go, and a hope we have.
We can rejoice in the Lord despite our circumstances because rejoicing in God means that we take delight in him. It means we are comforted by his name and his presence. It means that despite what I am going through I know that I am loved, cared for, and watched over. Delighting in God means that despite the chaos and storm in my life my beloved Lord is my peace and comfort. Rejoicing in the Lord means that while I cannot seem to get out of this storm God is above it and outside of it. That he is not consumed by it and yet he is near to me and in the midst of it with me. Rejoicing in the Lord simply means putting JOY in his name, work, and being.
We can delight while in sorrow because we declare that sorrow will not win. We can rejoice and delight in God because his work upon the cross means that relationships will be restored and that cancer will not win.
To rejoice in the Lord means we step outside of this moment, even if for a brief second, and drink in the ultimate glory of God. To rejoice means to worship, praise, and find comfort in God. It doesn’t meant that this moment isn’t tough and that we should lie and be happy nor is Paul commanding us to do just that. What it does mean is that we remember and take comfort and joy in knowing that there is more than this pain, more than this sorrow, and more than this grief. These are honest feelings and places/spaces in our lives but we delight in the Lord during them because God’s work and namesake are greater. We aren’t rejoicing in the pain or the sorrow or the fact we are going through it. We are rejoicing in God alone and that does not require us to FEEL any different.
Rejoicing in the Lord is a peace, a calm, a praise, comfort and hope. When life is a pounding storm being able to step outside and rejoice in God is often times the only reprieve we have. This is not an “out-of-body experience” that draws us away from life’s events but it’s a joy we can cling to that enters into our lives and reminds us of the peace and joy to come. We rejoice because “rejoicing in the Lord” is about encompassing all of who God is. His life, his love, his death, his resurrection, and the promise of his return.
To “rejoice in the Lord” is a beautiful reminder that we can find peace in God and that doesn’t demand us to be or act outside of the pain we are in. So yes. You and I need to rejoice in the Lord always because we always need to be comforted in his name and delight in his work.
Just my 2cents