Always? Rejoice even when my spouse vetoes my plans; the washing machine breaks; a tire goes flat, or the toast burns? Some friends of mine decided to go camping with their three boys. It turned so cold they couldn’t sleep? Were they supposed to rejoice? My son is in a dangerously bad situation. Just the other night he was attacked. There is absolutely nothing I can do about it, but pray. Am I supposed to rejoice in this situation?
Doesn’t worry, grumbling, and complaining seems more natural?
When we read the stories in the Old testament, that were written down for our learning (Romans 15:4), we see how GOD feels about murmuring and complaining. When the Jews were in the wilderness and those million plus people had no water, they murmured and complained. Reasonable? Seems like it, huh? GOD didn’t think so, it made HIM mad. Did you know that murmuring, and complaining often prompted judgment from GOD? (Numbers 11:1, Numbers 17:10) Why? To murmur and complain is to speak against our Sovereign GOD’s wisdom and goodness. If GOD is really LORD, that means Sovereign Provider over all, HE is in control. It is written that GOD actively conspires to work all things for an end result of good for those who love HIM and are the called according to HIS purpose (Romans 8:28).
Does scripture leave us in the dark, or does it tell us why we are supposed to rejoice always, or give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18)? I want to give you a few whys I have found.
“Rejoice in the LORD always, and again I say rejoice!” (why?) the LORD is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything but pray about everything. Tell GOD what you need, with thanksgiving (why?) so the peace of GOD that surpasses understanding will guard and keep your hearts and minds” (Philippians 4:4-7).
“greatly rejoice as you suffer grief in all kinds of trials (why?) these trials are to test your faith … and your faith is far more precious to GOD than mere gold” (I Peter 1:6-7)
“Count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds (why?) For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow, and when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything” (James 1:2-4).
We are told to rejoice (choice of action), too when we run into problems and trials (why?), for we know they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation (Romans 5:3-4).
We need to rejoice in struggles and sorrow, (why?) they are the means GOD uses to prepare us to bring comfort to others who suffer, through the very comfort GOD gave us during our struggles and sorrow (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
Rejoice when struggles come because GOD is disciplining us (why?) it proves we are saved (Hebrews 12:5-8), it will produce a righteousness in us (Hebrews 12:11,) and we will not have to be condemned with the world (I Corinthians 1:31-32).
Why should we rejoice in troubles? GOD says all things are for our benefit, and that the troubles we face are achieving for us eternal things that far outweigh the pain of today (2 Corinthians 4:15-18).
Notice in our theme verse, rejoice is a command, so it has to be an action of choice, not a feeling. No one can command feelings. JESUS didn’t like being on the cross, in fact HE despised it. But at the same time HE rejoiced in it. He looked at the joy before HIM. That is, JESUS focused on what it was achieving for us, HIMSELF, and GOD the FATHER (Hebrews 12:2).
Remember my friends’ camping trip? One positive result of the cold night was told by the mom. “It sure makes me thankful to have a home.”
Do I like seeing my son in this hard place? NO! Can I rejoice while John in straights? Yes! It has taught me to trust GOD more fully, to listen carefully, as I seek HIS face, and pray back to HIM the scriptures, HE gives me to claim for John. As I claim the verses GOD gives me, my faith is strengthened. When danger comes, and sometimes GOD wakes me to pray urgently during the night, I am confident, GOD is with him and in control. The crazy setbacks, have developed my patience. So, I do rejoice in this situation, for I know without a doubt, that GOD is achieving through it all something wonderful. This situation is for a time, it will end, but what GOD is achieving, for John and me, through it, is something that will last forever.
Looking unto JESUS, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.