"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." (Phil. 4:4-5, NIV)
Rejoice! Can we really rejoice always? In the bad times as well as the good? God tells us, "Yes", through His servant, Paul, if we rejoice in the Lord. God knows we must have joy in our hearts, especially during hard times, or else we'll lose all hope.
Remembering the Lord and all He's done for us will cause us to rejoice. We'll find joy in the knowledge that although times may be dark, we have a Savior who will bring us through them and make us victorious. He reigns in both the good and the bad times.
Rejoicing in the Lord will keep our eyes fixed on our precious Savior who loves us and cares for us. It will keep us from becoming bitter and striking out at others. Our gentleness in the hard times will be evident to all. It will also be evident that the Lord is with us, because we're being supernaturally empowered and not relying on our own strength. We're most likely more of a witness to others when we're enduring hard times by choosing to focus on the joy that comes from all the Lord has done for us in the past and on His presence with us in our current circumstances.
I've not always rejoiced in the Lord during hard times, but there have been times when I did, and it made all the difference: I endured without spiraling down into the pit of despair. Nehemiah tells us that "The joy of the Lord is your strength."
God calls us not to a walk of perfection but to a walk of faith. We can choose to begin today to rejoice in Him. It's a promise worth remembering that the Lord will strengthen us when we choose to rejoice in Him despite our circumstances.
One way to rejoice in the Lord is to recite His Word back to Him. Here are some verses you can read out loud to the Lord. Let your soul magnify the Lord and be strengthened!
“My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance." (1 Samuel 2:1, NIV)
"Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!” (1 Chron. 16:31, NIV)
"But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You." (Ps. 5:11, NKJV)
"I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High." (Ps. 9:2, NKJV)
"I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul." (Ps. 31:7, ESV)
"But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the LORD!” (Ps. 40:16, ESV)