I cry to the Lord; I call and call to Him. Oh, that He would listen. I am in deep trouble and I need His help so much. All night long I pray, lifting my hands to heaven, pleading. There can be no joy for me until He acts. I think of God and moan, overwhelmed with longing for His help. I cannot sleep until You act. I am too distressed even to pray!
Psalm 77:1-3 (The Living Bible)
Have you ever felt like this? Too often Christians feel condemned when they find themselves hurting and confused. Maybe it’s because we’ve believed the unbiblical teaching that once we place our faith in Jesus the rest of our life is just one big party. Nothing could be further from the truth! We live in a world that has been horribly damaged by sin and we live with those consequences every day.
But what about Paul’s admonition to, “Rejoice in The Lord always,” in Philippians 4:4? How do we reconcile the fact that we’re often confronted with trials that leave us bewildered and grieving with the biblical command to rejoice in the Lord always?
It’s by understanding what it means to “Rejoice in the Lord.”
Rejoicing in the Lord does not mean denying the reality of the emotions that we feel when we’re besieged by trials and hurting. It doesn’t mean that we confront our grief and pain with a false stoicism or fake giddiness. We’re not commanded to rejoice in the pain! We must rejoice in the Lord, not in the trial!
We rejoice in The Lord when we acknowledge that even in the midst of our suffering He is still in control. Our Father cares for us and has always been faithful in comforting us and rescuing us. We rejoice in Him when we remind ourselves of His mercy and grace towards us in the past. That’s exactly what the Psalmist does in verses 11-12 when he says:
“I recall the many miracles He did for me so long ago. Those wonderful deeds are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about them.”
He goes on to list examples, the better to remind himself of God’s faithfulness in the past:
“When the Red Sea saw you, how it feared! It trembled in its depths… Your road led by a pathway through the sea – a pathway no one knew was there. You led your people along that road, like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds.”
Psalm 77:15, 19-20
If you are in pain or distress today, rejoice in the Lord by reminding yourself of His promises. Remember the mighty deeds He has performed for His people in the past. Be comforted in the knowledge that He is the same God today as He was then and will certainly pour out His grace and mercy on you.