Rejoice always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice. Rejoice! Rejoice!
I remember singing that song when our daughters were little. We’d clap and dance as we sang the joyful tune. It’s a happy memory.
Living out that joy always, even in times of suffering? It’s a struggle.
When teens go sideways, rejoice?
When finances dry up, rejoice?
When a global pandemic rages, rejoice?
How can we possibly rejoice in the face of so much suffering and uncertainty?
At the Last Supper Jesus took bread and broke it. He then acknowledged that the broken bread represented His soon-to-be-broken body. Jesus received the hard thing as a joy set before Him and gave thanks.
In that moment, Jesus saw the hard thing as a good thing.
The Apostle Paul wrote that we are to rejoice always, even in the face of suffering. He tells us we do this by taking our thoughts captive, refusing to give our mind the freedom to run wild down the path of fear and anxiety. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
We then redirect those captured thoughts and point them toward whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, or admirable. We are to focus our thoughts on anything that is excellent or praiseworthy–and rejoice.
When I’m worried that loved ones will succumb to COVID-19, I rejoice that today we are all healthy.
When I’m stressed by the difficulties of a suddenly full home, all of us on top of each other all day, I rejoice over this gift of togetherness—something which is increasingly rare in our emptying-nest.
When I fear the isolation of the stay-home order, I rejoice that the Glory of God cannot be contained. I rejoice that only God could stop the whole world in its tracks. I rejoice that technology enables continued connection.
Sweet Friend, may you and I rejoice that we have all received one blessing after another, grace upon grace. (John 1:16)
Philippians 4:4-8 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
What COVID-19 related fears, worries, and concerns consume your thoughts? How can you turn those thoughts upside-down, take them captive, and turn them into an opportunity to rejoice? Write them down.
Father, Your thoughts are not my thoughts. Your ways are not my ways. Teach me to take my fearful, anxious thoughts captive. Show me how to view them with Your perspective that I may rejoice and praise You. In Jesus’ name, amen.