The call to rejoice
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV
It seems strange that God commanded those that believe Him to rejoice in all circumstances. When the apostle Paul wrote this, he was imprisoned because of his faith in God. He was in a Roman jail and was guarded twenty four hours a day as if he was a criminal that posed a threat to others. Yet in his desire to encourage the believers in Philippi who were going through persecutions because of their faith in God, he said, “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). David when pursued by his enemies prayed to God to let him continue to experience the joy of serving God and to not be overcome with fear. “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you” (Psalm 5:11). Before Jesus went through the agonizing pain and suffering before His death on the cross, He told His disciples in the Upper Room, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). Then He explained to them that as His disciples, just like Him, they will be hated and persecuted. But then, He once again called them to a life of rejoicing. “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24). If David could rejoice while being pursued by murderous enemies, if Paul could rejoice while jailed and imprisoned unjustly, and if Christ could tell His disciples that they could rejoice even in the midst of their trials, then you who claim that you are a child of God could do the same. What God is commanding His children are not to rejoice because of their circumstances but to experience joy even when they are going through circumstances. You can rejoice in the Lord because His promise is to be with you while going through challenges in life. It is not that He will shield you from experiencing grief and sorrow for He Himself was a “man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:33) but to provide you the strength so that you could be like Him, sorrowful yet always rejoicing (2 Corinthians 6:10). When you allow the Spirit of God to lead you in your daily life, His promise is that He will fill you with His presence that will result to a life of rejoicing. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness...” (Galatians 5:22).