Rejoice

Honest Posts about Everyday Life Where We Learn to Be More Like Christ ~by Elizabeth Smith

Surreal! This situation we are living through right now seems like a movie. It’s really scary for so many reasons. The bible tells us not to fear, but I have moments these days full of anxiety and fear. People are dying, this virus is spreading so quickly, everything is closing and we are faced with…the unknown! We all have so many questions: Will I get sick? Will somebody I love die from this? How long will this last? Will I be able to pay my bills?

My mind keeps going back to the verses my pastor preached several weeks ago:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

 

I get the pray continually part. I’ve been doing that lately! I even get the give thanks in all circumstances part. There is a lot of good going on in the world right now. I love seeing communities come together. I love seeing people making the most of a bad situation. I am healthy. My friends and family are healthy. I have a home and food. I have a lot to be thankful for. But, rejoice? I had to take a closer look at that word because to me that sounds a lot like celebrate and I don’t really feel like celebrating right now. So, I looked at a different translation…

Be full of joy all the time. Never stop praying. In everything give thanks. This is what God wants you to do because of Christ Jesus. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLV

The New Life Version says to be full of joy all the time. Having joy is very different from celebrating. Joy does not always equal happiness. Joy is one of the Fruits of the Spirit and it is the assurance that God will never leave us. It is the peace that God is in control. It is the understanding that He loves us. It is the hope of knowing that He can restore what has been lost. It is trusting that He can take difficult situations and bring good from them.

This is where we need to turn our thoughts right now. We need to rejoice always because we know we can trust this God who is bigger than this virus that seems enormous.

When I messaged my pastor to make sure I had the correct chapter and verses, he said “but don’t forget 19-20!” If we look past the familiar verses, we read (in yet a third translation):

16 Always be joyful. 17 Always keep on praying. 18 No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

19 Do not smother the Holy Spirit. 20 Do not scoff at those who prophesy.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-20 TLB

Verse 19 tells us not to smother the Holy Spirit. When we smother (or stifle) the Holy Spirit, we stop the Spirit’s work in us. We don’t allow for the joy and peace that we so desperately need…especially right now. When we try to rely completely on resources other than the Spirit, we are smothering the Spirit. When we look for comfort in other ways and in other individuals, we are stifling the Holy Spirit. In this time of uncertainty, draw your peace from the Holy Spirit. Find comfort from the One who can provide it most.

In verse 20, we are told not to scoff at those who prophesy. We need to hear and listen to our religious leaders because they are going to keep us focused on the truth of WHO is in control. They are going to help us keep our eyes fixed on the One who can give us peace and hope and comfort. We must hold onto what is good and be wise to avoid evil. As we continue to focus on the news of the never ending doom of this unknown new challenge, we really need to balance this with the reminder of the hope of Jesus Christ and the promise of God.

I’m not saying this is always easy. I’m not saying I do this well. Fear creeps in. Worry keeps me up at night. Questions fill my head. I need these reminders too. I need the peace of God at times more than others. We are in this together. Don’t forget 19 -20!

If you are a believer, you will know that we were never promised a life without trouble, but we have been promised that He will carry our worries, He will be our peace, He will never leave us, and that if we believe in Him, we will have eternal life. We need to rejoice. We need to pray. We need to give thanks. Why? Because this is what God wants for us because of Jesus Christ! If you are not a believer, I pray that you can ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life and you can start to experience the joy and the peace that only He can give in these uncertain times.


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