Rejoice… Always?

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 minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-78 ESV

In the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments, the theme of rejoicing is consistent. Paul, in his writings, mentions this topic frequently to his followers before he ends his message. But in reality, we face various hardships, disappointments, worries, and trials, such as joblessness, financial concerns, relationship misunderstandings, etc. At times, we face illnesses, natural disasters, wars, fights, abuse – and even death. Are we really supposed to rejoice always?

To understand “rejoice always,” we need to look at some other Bible passages. We are to weep and mourn with those who do so. 

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 

Romans 12:15 ESV 

We are to be patient in trials and rejoice in our hope. 

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 

Romans 12:12 ESV 

We are to welcome trials as a way to grow in being Christ-like. 

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4 ESV

Trust the Lord in all things

But what if we have challenges and concerns? What if we lost a loved one, are having financial troubles, or are in physical pain? What if we do not know what tomorrow will bring us in light of our current problems and hardships? What if we suffer injustice or physical pain? Can we still rejoice in the Lord during these times?

When we rejoice, we show the world that we trust the Lord in all things, even during dire situations. Rejoicing removes anxiety in our hearts, and the flip side of anxiety is peace. We show everyone that the Lord is near and will never abandon us. Regardless of any situation, we show all people that our hope is in Him. Philippians 4 tells us that with prayer and supplication, we should offer our needs to God – and then leave the matter to God, knowing He hears our prayers. We are showing everyone that in everything, God works for the good of those who love Him, those whom He called according to His purpose [Romans 8:28]. 

Reasonableness means gentleness. It is a fruit of the spirit found in Galatians 5. This means we need to be caring and loving in speaking and acting and not be rude, uncaring, or impolite. When we show gentleness, we show all people that we trust God and know He is in control of everything.

Rejoicing always is being Christ-like. Our hope and our future are in Him. 

A light in the darkness

Rejoicing always is being a light in the darkness, being a fifth gospel. In an ever-unstable world, everyone is easy to panic and be afraid of possible outcomes. Anxiety is a common problem we see all around us. Even during the middle of a storm, we can be assured that the Lord is there for us, and He will not abandon us. Nothing can separate us from His love.

What, then, shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 

As it is written, “For your sake, we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Romans 8:31-39 ESV

An attitude of gratitude

In summary, rejoicing always is a mindset, an approach to daily living. It is an attitude of gratitude. Who God is and what God has done never changes – His love, mercy, grace and forgiveness, Jesus’ death and resurrection, God’s provision, and His gifts – they are constant and consistent. We are to be conquerors and victors in this life, not losers and victims.

Top image credit: Illustration of light emanating from a crown of thorns which in shadow form reveals a hidden crown of glory, from, © by the artist Kevin Carden. Used with permission,

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