How to rejoice when it seems unreasonable

jumping for joyChristians know that the Bible says, “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) and “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).

In fact, those are the texts of two popular rounds that are probably going through your head right now.

We know what the Word says. That doesn’t make it easy for us to wrap our minds around what it really means or how to do it. Sometimes, life is so miserable that there doesn’t seem to be anything to rejoice about at all.

And yet Paul, the man who wrote those words, didn’t exactly have an easy life. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has struggled with those commands. Why else would David Young have written a book called Joy?

The reason for joy

In the second chapter, he pointed out something that I had probably read and heard hundreds of times without really noticing its significance:

James wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

Paul wrote, “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance” (Romans 5:3).

That sent me to search for every instance of “you know” or “we know” in the Bible (something you can easily do online at Bible Gateway) to see what else it says I know that would give me reason to rejoice.

I’d like to share some of them here—not all of them. I collected more than three pages! I also rephrased them in the form of a confession, and I read them aloud daily, beginning each with the words “I rejoice because I know

  • Joy quotationthat I do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord – Deuteronomy 8:3
  • that not one word has failed of all the good things the Lord has promised concerning me. – Joshua 23:14
  • I am more valuable to God than the birds of the air, and he feeds them and takes care of them – Matthew 6:26
  • that heaven and earth will pass away, but Jesus’ words will not pass away. – Matthew 24:35
  • the divine humility that led Jesus to wash the disciples’ feet, and that I will be blessed if I also act as he did. – John 13:17
  • where Jesus has gone, and I know the way. – John 14:4
  • that I was baptized into Jesus’ death so that I may live a new life. – Romans 6:3-4
  • that my labor in the Lord is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:58
  • that I will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward for all the work I do as working for the Lord – Colossians 3:24
  • I was destined for trials, so by the strength of my faith, I will not be unsettled by them. — 1 Thessalonians 3:3
  • all the persecutions that Paul suffered —and that God rescued him from all of them. — 2 Timothy 3:10-11
  • that I have known the holy scriptures from childhood, and they are able to make me wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. – 2 Timothy 3:15 [If you can’t rejoice because you knew them from childhood, rejoice that you know them now!]
  • they are blessed who have persevered like Job and that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy. – James 5:11
  • that the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. – 1 John 2:8
  • I have known him who is from the beginning. – 1 John 2:13
  • the truth and have an anointing from the Holy One. – 1 John 2:20
  • Jesus appeared in order to take away my sin. – 1 John 3:5
  • I belong to the truth by loving with actions and in truth, and because I know how to set my heart at rest in God’s presence whenever my heart condemns me. – 1 John 3:19
  • I live in him and he in me, because he has given me his Spirit. – 1 John 4:13
  • that, being born of God, I do not continue to sin, and that Jesus keeps me safe so that the evil one, who controls the world, cannot harm me. – 1 John 5:18-19

How to choose joy

today I choose joyI can’t stress enough how important it is to read these and other joy-building, faith-building, hope-building scriptures aloud for 20-30 minutes at a time at least once a day. Preferably more.

Otherwise, you’ll have head knowledge and nod in agreement, but the truth of Scripture won’t get down into your subconscious where it can scrub away all the bitterness, wrath, and all the other things we’re commanded to let be put away from us (Ephesians 4:31).

There are plenty of other wonderful aids for making scriptures into personal confessions of faith. I also recommend Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds by Beth Moore. I have had that one for several months and someone has already commented that she sees it working in me.

But I also recommend using Bible Gateway to search the scriptures for yourself, and write your own confessions based on whatever is troubling you at the moment. Beth Moore’s book provides an excellent model. There are others.

Here are links to the books I mentioned. And while you’re at Amazon, do any other shopping you have in mind! (Disclaimer: those are affiliate links, and I’ll make a commission.)

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