By Gordon Rowland, District Representative
In his letter to the church in Philippi, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4 (ESV) In another letter he wrote, “Rejoice always,” 1 Thessalonians 5:16.
There are many people today, even among believers who find very little that brings rejoicing in our current circumstances. As we deal with pandemic uncertainty, economic uncertainty, and a spiral of moral decline, it seems that there little to rejoice about. Yet, as believers, we are called to rejoice.
As we consider this command to rejoice always, I think we would do well to look at to the Word of God to find our source of joy in the midst of uncertainty and confusion.
Joy in our Salvation
In the first epistle of Peter, the apostle was writing to beleaguered Christians who were going through times of incredible trials and persecution. He reminded them that their trials were a means by which God was testing and purifying them. At the end of this purifying process the result would be “…praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7b)
Peter then went on to point out what this hope does for us even in the midst of trials and uncertainty. “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV)
Knowing what lies beyond this life and realizing that the ultimate outcome of our faith is eternal salvation, brings a joy that is beyond expression. It is rejoicing that cannot be dampened by the trials and struggles we face here and now.
Joy in the Lord
Even more than rejoicing in our salvation is the joy that comes from our relationship with God himself. The theologians who wrote the Westminster catechism in the 17th century stated that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” Our purpose in life is to find joy and rejoicing in God.
King David expressed the same thought in Psalm 16:11 – “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (ESV) True, deep-seated joy and delight come not from circumstances but from knowing the Lord and basking in His presence.
The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk summed it up very well as he contemplated the struggles the nation of Judah was facing. On the surface it seemed there was little to rejoice over. But as he pleads with the Lord in prayer, his heart is changed and he concludes his prophecy with this declaration of hope,
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV)
Let us not lose hope. Even though we may be tempted to despair as we look at circumstances around us, I trust that we will say with the prophet, “I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”
Gordon Rowland is the District Representative
for the Prairie Provinces