Okay y’all, let’s talk about something convicting me right now.
Do you know when we’re supposed to rejoice? Always. And in case we want to forget that, we’re reminded.
I tried to get really into it. Dig pretty deep. Because sometimes there are …meanings that we miss, cultural ties or something. So I looked it up. What does “always” mean? Is it hyperbolic? And what about rejoice? We have assumptions about rejoicing now, but what did it mean at the time the letter was written?
And guess what I found?!
YEP! Those words mean EXACTLY what you think they mean, and there is no clever slinking around the truth or the imperative. I am supposed to (somehow) rejoice at every moment.
And that’s really kickin’ me right now. Like sometimes, things just aren’t fun.
And SOME times, (though I haven’t had this struggle in almost a year) things just SUCK.
Sometimes, people die. Sometimes they are babies. Sometimes you don’t get what you worked for and sometimes you get the opposite. Sometimes love, here on the finite level, isn’t enough. Sometimes the work or the task is too hard for you, no matter your dedication to or faith in the Lord.
So I’m asking: how do I rejoice?
When people I love walk away from the Lord? When the babies I love die, starving and dirty? When I just can.not.do.it, whatever it is?
Or in much simpler terms: When my work load is much more than I’d prefer. When someone doesn’t like me. When my best efforts come across as malignant , despised. When I cannot fix the hurt around me. When I cause the hurt. When I see my failure or when I don’t but I know it’s there.
How can I possibly rejoice all.the.time?
And I’ve come up with just one answer, which maybe should be capitolized, as it’s one of those important, big things.
I can rejoice always when I always believe that God is always enough. Not God plus loved ones and happiness and accomplishements, but just God. God who is who he says he is and keeps his promises and does what he says he’ll do and is bigger and stronger and better than my imagination will ever conceive.
When He is enough, I can rejoice. Because I always have him. I know that I can rejoice always through His strength because the Bible tells me over and over that God is my strength and my shield. Because it tells me that He loves me and there is coming a time when he will wipe every tear and that I am marching forward continually in victory and that the war has been won and that he cannot be thwarted! And as I read the bible, I know if from deep within me. I know it because I know him. And he is the Love whose reflection causes all good things in and through me. I am a sucker for love and romance and this love story, the one between God and his people, between God and ME, it is enough to cause instant, continued rejoicing.
It reminds me of another “always,” the song by Kristian Stanfill, which includes the lines,
“Oh my God,
Do not delay
My refuge and strength: always.
I will not fear
His promise is true
my God will come through. Always.”
And now, what pains me more, is the effort to say the same to those around me. When they are hurt, scared, confused. When they don’t get what they want and what they are sure they need. When their circumstances are big and awful. When they are not rejoicing, will I stand in the gap for them and give them the truth, the only worthy thing that I have to offer? Will I ask them how THEY can rejoice? Will I encourage them not to fake it, not to ignore, not to sublimate, but to look at all their circumstances and rise above based on something deeper, wider, stronger than circumstances: Truth.
Will I love them more than I love their approval, and so encourage them to rejoice even though it may cause them to walk away from me?
Will I stick with it and fight alongside them with prayer and petition and tears, holding them up as they seek to rejoice through the pain?
Will I give my energy and time and words and approval to help myself and others rejoice always?
Pplfriends, those of you who are close to me, I think you might start to soon tire of an adage I’m picking up, “How can we rejoice in this?”
I love you. I hear you. Your feelings matter. You matter. I will be here with you. Rejoice. Find your rejoicing in him.
He rejoices over you. Need some encouragement? Go check out the study notes to Zephaniah 3:17.