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Rejoice Always

Gospel Transformed Joy

By April 21, 2020 No Comments

In a recent conversation with a sister in Christ, she told me, “Pastor, I find it incredibly hard to be happy in days like this. When I can’t know what God is doing and why he is doing it, I feel alone. What can I do?”

Questions like these reveal our position as humans in the sovereign control of our good and Holy God. They pierce our souls, minds, and hearts as we wrestle with the promises of God revealed in Scripture. In particular, with COVID-19 and with the immense isolation of non-gathering local bodies of Christ, even the Christian who has known Jesus for many years can have doubt planted as well as grown within their hearts.

These doubts that we encounter are not new for us as disciples of Jesus and they are not new for our loving God.

 In a familiar passage to many, Paul addresses the church in Philippi regarding worry and fear in 4:13-17.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In a time of pandemic and panic, Christ-followers around the world hold fast to these words. These words give us a firm foundation and yet, it also stops us almost immediately with those words.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”

What does this mean in a pandemic?

What does this mean when the church can’t gather like we typically can?

What does this mean for our discipleship in our neighborhoods?

These are all valid questions; however, without a heart understanding of the foundation of our rejoicing, we can’t answer any of those questions we are asking. In other ways, how can we answer these questions, without knowing what it means to rejoice and what to actually rejoice in despite situations around us?

How can we fully rejoice?

The apostle Paul who wrote this letter to the church in Philippi understood in a visible way that rejoicing in Christ had nothing to do with the circumstances around you. In fact, he knew whether he was well fed or poor that he could “do all this through him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13).

Rejoicing in Christ can be difficult if our eyes are on our own stresses, screaming kids at home when they are typically at school, wanting to leave the house when we can’t, or when we see the world in panic around us. But thanks be to God and His grace, that our rejoicing is based solely on the character of God revealed in Scripture.

If our rejoicing was at all based on the world around us, how could we ever rejoice? Now, if our rejoicing is based on something greater, something transformative, all loving, and all glorious, it now becomes a joy to rejoice in that thing.

In our rejoicing, the call of Hebrews 12:1-2 for God’s people applies in all situations; pandemic or not.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Looking to Jesus.

Disciple makers, look to Jesus when your world is falling apart.

Church, look to Jesus when God seems silent.

Pastors, look to Jesus as the body of Christ is worried and your workload seems to never end.

Church, our rejoicing is based on the rock-solid foundation of knowing Jesus and the character of God revealed through Him in the power of the Holy Spirit. Look to Jesus in all things, see His sovereign goodness in all of your life, and pursue Him so that all people around you, whether online or two metres away from you will ask you the reason for your living. Make your life demand an explanation of the gospel and share it with boldness.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”

You aren’t alone as you navigate this unique season of life and ministry. We are in this together. 

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Michael Lum

Author Michael Lum

Michael Lum is the Senior Pastor of Cremona Congregational Church in Cremona, AB, Canada. As a husband to Rebecca, father to Jeremiah and Abigail, and pastor, Michael strives to make Jesus famous through his words and deeds while equipping others to do the same wherever they are.

More posts by Michael Lum

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