Rejoice is a command

I don’t know about you, but I too often allow my circumstances to dictate how I feel. I allow myself to be like a block of foam on the ocean, bouncing around where the current and the waves take me. When things are going well, I’m OK but when things are difficult or uncomfortable, then . . .

Challenging me in this tendency is the Apostle Paul when he writes:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Philippians 4:4 (CSB)

(c) Can Stock Photo / nebari

The verb rejoice in this verse is in the imperative mood; it is a command. Paul is not making a suggestion. Nor is he presenting rejoicing as a nice-to-have. It is a command from one who has authority to give one. We have no option but to rejoice.

What is most interesting to me about this command is that Paul was in a Roman prison when he wrote it. He was not on the beach surrounded by friends. He was not hiking with snow-peaked mountains as a backdrop. He was in a stinky, dirty, moldy prison.

The ability to rejoice when things are going wrong is a byproduct of having a strong sense of where God is leading. If I know I am where God wants me to be, then I will be more likely to rejoice when things are difficult.

The Apostle Paul was confident that he was in prison for a purpose and in that prison he practiced what he preached. He rejoiced in the difficult circumstances and demonstrated that I have no excuse for not doing the same.

But if I left you with the impression that one only need to try harder at rejoicing, I would do us both a disservice. I find that in my own strength I can give the appearance of rejoicing but cannot produce the real thing.

My ability to rejoice in difficulties is a work of God’s grace in my life. It is not something that I can muster up on my own. But, by God’s grace, I am taking baby steps in learning to really rejoice.