1 Thessalonians 5:16
That’s it. The whole verse. It is wonderful to read, but very hard to do. Many things bring momentary happiness: a life changing event or even a temporary experience. However, there are many times I can remember when I lost sight of joy. Happiness is often based on our circumstances. True joy transcends our situation and comes directly from God, often when it seems the furthest possible option. We can be reminded in this verse, and in our most difficult circumstances, that God is gracious to us.
Can we have joy and still cry or be sad? Absolutely. Much in the same way the next verse tells us to “pray without ceasing.” Clearly, a strong prayer life is connected with the choice to be joyful. It is possible to struggle through a hard time and still have the joy of the Lord. Granted, every day will certainly not catch us behaving as David was, dancing before the Lord with all his might in celebration, but through everything, we can choose to keep joy in our hearts.
Rejoice and pray. The more we focus on these two things, the less worried we will become about the issues surrounding us, especially those outside our control. We might be surprised at how our rejoicing kindles the joy in others and, thus, makes everything a little better.
Regardless of your circumstances, God is bigger, God is gracious, and His love gives us endless reasons to rejoice.
Dear God, Please forgive me for the times that I have stopped rejoicing and praying, no matter how short a time it was. I know that you have extended the ultimate mercy and grace by sending your Son to die on the cross for my sins. Please help me to keep the joy you have inside me strong and visible through everything. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.