On Sunday morning, I sat in front of a room full of people, knowing that some of them are dealing with the really tough stuff of life, and read Paul's words from Philippians.
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice." Philippians 4:4
Depending on how things are going in your world, the words land differently. It's easy enough to rejoice when all is well, but harder still when things are coming apart at the seams.
Seams are bursting all around us these days.
But these words, written by the apostle Paul while he was in prison, are a good reminder that joy doesn't come from the external circumstances of our lives but from God's faithfulness to us. It's rooted not in the temporal good stuff of this life, but in the eternal goodness of God.
If that's true (and it is), then we always have a reason to rejoice, because God is always good, faithful, and gracious. Not only that, but he's also always good, faithful, and gracious to us. Even when times are hard. Even when things don't turn out the way we thought they would. Even when grief overwhelms. Even when darkness feels like it's closing in.
Our joy rests on the solid foundation of God's unwavering goodness. Everything in this world can crumble and fall. We can lose dreams and goals, homes and health, jobs and money, family and friends, but because God is eternally good, we always have a reason to hope. We always have a reason to sing.
Choosing to rejoice anyway is one of the most powerful things that we can do to fight back against the enemy (who would like nothing more than to see us defeated). It's a declaration of faith in God's goodness and faithfulness, despite all appearances to the contrary, and it's always good for us to declare his praise. Especially when our weary souls need to be reminded of his goodness.
Rejoice in the Lord. Remember what he has done. Recite his promises. Rehearse his faithfulness. And maybe, just maybe, the darkness will begin to recede as we train our eyes on the light of God's glory and grace.
There's a line in Matt Redman's "10,000 Reasons" that feels like a prayer every time I sing it, and it's my prayer for us today. "Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when evening comes."
Let it be so, Lord.
May we sing your praise both in the full light of day and in the thick darkness of night. May we be women who boldly rejoice in your faithfulness, in good times and bad, easy days and hard. May your glory shine bright as our praise resounds. Now and forever, Lord.
Amen and amen.