Rejoice in the Lord Always, and again I say rejoice…” Philippians 4:4.

“Rejoice always!” Are you for real?  An incredulous look wiped its hand across my brow. Beaten down with many stripes, imprisoned, bound with chains, and yet I am praising the Lord?  Rejoicing in adversity is difficult—ask Job, Paul, Jonah and Peter.

        The entire concept of giving thanks and rejoicing has received an awful Western individualistic twist.  Just listen to testimonies as people share what good God has done for them.  We stack up on the material blessings and forget that rejoicing represents two sides of a coin, the adverse and the beneficial. What happens when life is tough and rough, when there is death and sorrow, disappointment and many stripes?  We ought to rejoice in the difficulties and sorrows because God is in charge, as He was with Paul and Silas in the Philippi prison.  “Lord I thank you for these adverse times because you are in charge; I have lost my house, my friend, an opportunity, been through a storm, but I have got hope in the eternal”. Rejoice.

The elements of true rejoicing lie not in a present event but in the hoped-for future, a grounded faith, a strong foundation, for weeping endures for a night but joy comes in the morning.  That is why we can rejoice always in the Lord.  Rejoicing is constant, and “continuous as the stars that shine” (Wordsworth).  Rather than consider rejoicing as a single event only, it should be a continuous themed process without beginning or end. Thus, the Christian can truly rejoice in the Lord always.   Rejoice.

I saw Joseph in the pit, rejoicing; sold into slavery and rejoicing, escaping from Potiphar’s wife, and still rejoicing; in the depths of the prison, and still rejoicing; as governor of Egypt—thank you Jesus, I am jumping for joy.  Moses was in the bulrushes, smiling; promoted in Pharaoh’s court, singing; murdering a fellow-man and running, but praying; in the wilderness for 40 years, minding sheep, throwing his rod on the ground before Pharaoh—hurrah, I am jumping for joy. Rejoice.

I am thus persuaded that rejoicing with benefits is preceded by rejoicing with adversity.  So when you see me struggling personally or financially and the tuition and rent hit home, know that God is delivering me in the veritable den of lions.  I am stressed but blessed, disappointed but appointed, condemned but anointed, kept down but elevated.  My God is in every storm and every trial—it’s just for me to see Him, for now I see through a glass darkly but One Day, One Day, One Day. Sing with me now— “Rejoice, the Lord is King”. Rejoice.