The Choice to Rejoice
By Stephanie Nicole
Last night I was wracked with anxiety over nothing in particular and everything all at once.
The pressure of the first two weeks of September were mounting and my release valve was stuck. It had been too long since I stopped to take a deep breath of the Word. I had short quick moments of encouragement from the Bible, but I needed more.
I needed to really sit in the quiet of the late evening and let it wash over me.
When I was a kid Scripture memory was a great way to win cool prizes so I went all in with it. I realize now that it was one of the best gifts my Sunday School and camp experiences have ever given me, because all these years later, the very same verses will pop into my mind exactly when I need them the most.
Everyone else was asleep. I was awake, reading two words that are difficult for me right now: “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).
A friend just received some tough news about her daughter.
Another friend lost her dad a few weeks ago.
The world feels scary and unpredictable. Farmers struggle through difficult seasons of bad weather and poor crops, wildfires rage, hurricanes bring catastrophic flooding, good people face unemployment in a tough economy and we’re never short of bad news from around the world.
How can we possibly “rejoice always” when this is the reality we live in?
I know I can’t just muster it up by the power of positive thinking, no matter how hard I try.
There has to be more.
I certainly don’t have the answers to the why and how of the darkest valleys we face. But as a person who puts my faith in Jesus, I am called to rejoice always not because of my circumstances but in spite of them. I rejoice in what Jesus has done when he died on the cross and rose again from the grave. His death conquered sin and his resurrection overcame the grave. Because of Jesus, we have an eternal hope that can never perish, spoil or fade (1 Peter 1:3).
“Rejoice always” isn’t a chore we grit our teeth through when the going gets tough.
It’s not a pep talk when the world is falling apart around us.
It’s a choice we make to trust that God’s word is true and unfailing – and the Word made Flesh, Jesus, makes a difference in our lives right now. He is the reason we choose to rejoice always.
Amen. This week I’m going all in with that.
1 Peter 1:3-9 (NIV) —
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”