By: Casey Bonilla
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice: feel or show great joy or delight
How, in this broken world, can we always feel great joy? How can we give thanks in all circumstances, when sometimes our lives are overwhelmed with the trials of this lifetime? The answer is simple; there is always a reason to rejoice.
When we accept Christ into our lives, when he becomes the foundation on which we stand, we are accepting the Gospel as His unshakeable truth. God does not change; He is always good. Jesus is the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega. We can rejoice, we can give thanks, because God is God. It’s the only reason we will ever need. Jesus died on the cross as the blameless lamb, facing the separation from God that the sins of the world bring, so that we can live in freedom from our sin. If we believe that Christ took our place in this, allowing us access to an eternity with our Father in Heaven, then we accept an eternal joy that surpasses anything of this world or lifetime. Jesus said in Luke 10:19-20, “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Whatever you’re facing, you can already give thanks, because it is finished.
It’s easy to appear joyful when circumstances are good, but this is mere happiness that is dependent on external factors. True joy is deeper; true joy is an internal state of being; true joy can only come from being constantly aware of our Creator. Habakkuk 3:17-18 says, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” This is real joy in the Lord; present in even the worst of circumstances. It’s counter-intuitive, it’s counter-cultural to not complain – but it honors the Lord.
I don’t know what you are going through or suffering from today, but I pray that you take hold today of the joyful life available to you. (To be clear – we are human. It is OK to feel human emotions, and to acknowledge them. Remember that Jesus himself wept in sorrow. When we mourn, God comforts. When we face battle, God is not only by our sides – but He’s already prepared the victory). However, when the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave lives within us (Romans 8:11), the truth will speak louder than fleeting emotions. We must accept what we feel, and then recognize that it is only temporary. Pain, sorrow, sadness, anxiety, anger, confusion – we must rejoice through it all.
James, who grew up as a brother of Jesus, writes in James 1:2-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Not only can we rejoice despite the trials of this lifetime, we can rejoice because of them. Christ did not promise us an easy journey following him, but one of troubles and resistance. When the path is difficult, you can rejoice in the truth that it is the way Jesus has prepared. Sometimes as believers we can get too caught up in asking God to remove our trials, when really we should be praying for Him to be known through them. When we remain evidently joyful in tough circumstances, it reflects His light in us and gives Him glory.
Paul, the author of many books in the Bible, suffered greatly, was imprisoned, and ultimately died for the mission of the Gospel. Yet in his writings, he is consistently and constantly thankful for the life he had been given through Christ. He writes in Philippians 3:8, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” When Jesus becomes the most important thing in our hearts, all else will seem worthless. He writes again in 1 Peter 4:13, “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” Paul not only provides an example of gratitude in trial, but he reveals how this unexplainable joy is possible. He embodies a heart postured towards Heaven, a mind renewed by the promises of God, and a soul wholly dependent on the strength of the Lord. If we are constantly breathing in the word of God, the hurt of our broken world will begin to be replaced by the love of our Heavenly Father.
What trials are you facing today? What circumstances are present in your life today that produce suffering? I challenge you today to rejoice through your troubles, and give thanks for them as well. Thank God for the problems that you face today that will allow His glory to be revealed. Be consistent in reminding yourself of the reasons to be joyful today. God is good, and His plan will never fail. I encourage you to pray today, whatever season of life you might be in, that the light of Christ would radiate to those around you. Rejoice in the good, rejoice in the difficult, rejoice always.
Psalm 35:27 “Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!”
Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it”