1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 16 Rejoice evermore, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Oh what joy it is to live in Christ! Right? Isn’t every moment simply an easy moment of bliss? Doesn’t Jesus heal all your sickness and provide you with wealth if you follow Him? How else could Paul command us to “rejoice always?” Turn on your TV; preachers of the God of the bible everywhere are telling you this lie: the lie that Jesus is really nothing more than a cosmic genie, available to fulfill your wishes when you call upon Him. The deceptive idea that we can come to Christ for any reason other than a desire to repent of our sin and trust His righteousness alone is possibly the most blasphemous, deplorable thought in the hearts of men today. Thankfully, I trust in God’s sovereignty, and I know that none of His elect can be deceived by these charlatans, and their portion in the Lake of Fire will be proportionate to their sin against Him!
So if we are not made wealthy and healthy by coming to Christ, shall we experience suffering? 1 Peter 5:10 seems to indicate that: But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. emphasis my own. The same God that tells us we must suffer, that we must “take up our cross,” that we will face persecution, and that the world will hate us because it hated Him first has also commanded us to rejoice always. In the Greek, it has the connotation of continuous rejoicing, without pause!
When you think about it, it actually makes sense that this command is present and necessary. The fact that we will face suffering and persecution requires a reminder to rejoice. As fleshly people, we will frequently face times when we forget about the grace we’ve received. Living in a sin cursed world will contribute to our ungrateful attitudes and our self-centered focus. We need to be commanded to rejoice because our tendency will be to do otherwise. We are people with an “Adamic” nature. Our initial reaction is always a desire immediate gratification. We will never, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, do what Jesus did when he, “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2.
Why should we rejoice? What’s the purpose? We have seen that rejoicing can be hard. It’s clear that rejoicing is commanded. Why would God command something that is so unnatural to do (sometimes), even if you are saved? Rejoicing comes quite naturally at times; so why a command to do so “evermore?” Simply put, you glorify God when you rejoice in Him during trials and tribulations. Think about it: even the most ungodly person will rejoice when things “go their way.” Most people are quite content when they are pain-free, employed, well fed and find friendship. It is when we are most down and out that our trust in God impresses others. It is when we are standing in front of a deep sea on one side and pharaoh’s army on the other that our stillness enables others to see God’s amazing faithfulness. It is the rejoicing of parents over their dead child’s place in heaven that shows how we are different, set apart, from the world. It is through rejoicing in the profession of faith of former criminals, burglars, liars and prostitutes that we show the world that we hope in the Lord and that we trust His grace to be sufficient!
So rejoice, dear brother and sister. The worst circumstance you will endure will be temporary. The most painful affliction you experience at the hands of men will pale in comparison to the eternal punishment of an infinitely wise and creative God. Your sins have been paid for; why should you not rejoice? There is nothing that can separate you from the love of God, and nothing that you will ever experience can even be compared to the suffering of the One who paid it all for you on the cross. What river of pain or mountain of affliction wouldn’t you cross, if it meant the salvation of a loved one. What temporary discomfort would you cheerfully endure if you knew the end result was God’s glory and redemption of sinners? Well, all things work together for Good, so trust in this fact every moment and REJOICE ALWAYS!