I find it refreshing when I come across a person with a joyful disposition. The truth be told, they are very rare to find these day. I guess the question that comes to mind is “Am I a joyful person in other’s eyes?” It is a great question. What we often miss is that joyfulness is a choice that we make each and every day.
Our congregation has been challenged monthly for the last two years to focus on a Monthly Memory Verse. We kicked off the year with three easy verses from 1 Thessalonians chapter five. This verse contains three admonitions, all of which reflect God’s will for our lives. You know, that time when you are dealing with a difficult child, or maybe you and your spouse are not seeing eye to eye, or when you are stuck in traffic. Yes, we are reminded that even during those times, God’s will for His followers is to take control of their emotions by viewing the situation from His perspective.
So God’s Word encourages the Thessalonians, and us, to ““Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18) So this was our January memory verses. Now I need to encourage you to read the whole chapter because it contains several admonitions. But let’s take a look at the first, “Rejoice always.” We need to look at what the verse is not saying to us. It is not saying that you like everything that happens. Who likes waiting in long lines at the grocery store? It also does not say that life is going to be problem free. The only people that are problem free are those that are no longer living. I think that a portion of the definition of life includes problems (at least living in this broken world.) It also does not say that you have to feel like being joyful. Let’s be honest with ourselves. It is easy to use this as a cop out. We say, it would be hypocritical to be joyful when I am not! Yet, the Bible does not say, “Hey do this if you feel like it!”
So how can I be joyful during those tough times? Well, first, you need to see the situation from God’s perspective. This comes out in the last phrase of the three verses above, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” God has a purpose for the challenges you are facing. Maybe waiting for a prescription to be filled is to give you an opportunity to interact with the others around you? Or maybe it is an opportunity to show God’s kindness to another by letting the person behind you at the store with one item go before you? Or maybe it is an opportunity to show Jesus’ character in you by cleaning someone else’s dirty dishes? Second, we can rejoice because our relationship with Jesus is secure and our sins have been forgiven, if we have been born again. And third, we rejoice always because nothing takes away that joy of being a child of the King of King and Lord of Lords.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson