Aging by Rejoicing

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice (Philippians 4:4, ESV).

I try to rejoice in all things and often fail miserably. 

I understand that I should rejoice always but I must admit that I often don’t feel like it. And yet Scripture keeps reminding me to…

Rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

Consider it all joy, when you encounter various trials (James 1:2, NASB1995).

It’s irritating when believers try placating me with, “Well, the Bible teaches us that we are to rejoice in all things.”

I don’t feel like singing a Psalm at that moment; more like strangling someone.

And some even weaponize rejoicing. Have we been told in an unjust situation to consider it joy in trials, that God’s in control, or just be patient?

We don’t feel like humility; more like calling down fire from heaven.

But as firm believers in the Bible, we must rejoice in all things, whether we like it or not. I find that rejoicing is the only practice that avoids bitterness—especially the accumulation of anger in our souls as we age.

J.I. Packer writes a short book entitled Finishing Our Course With Joy: Guidance from God for Engaging With Our Aging.

In this book, he writes… 

The Bible’s view is that aging, under God and by grace, will bring wisdom, that is, an enlarged capacity for discerning, choosing, and encouraging.

We have a past with both positive and negative events, and both compete for our attention in the present. If we yield to the negative from the past, it will dominate our present through resentment and ruin our hope for the future.

Learning to rejoice in all things allows us to escape the frustrations of the past and press into God’s ever-increasing blessings for our future. It’s enlightening that our first event in heaven is not a pity party for past offenses but rejoicing at a wedding feast with the Lamb of God.

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory” (Revelation 19:6-7a, ESV).

Rejoicing is an act of the will. Our culture teaches that we should be positive in all circumstances. I agree but warn that earthly positivity doesn’t consider the suffering of Jesus that gives eternal joy. 

Being positive can be a manufactured happiness that doesn’t resolve the source of our frustration. Biblical rejoicing roots itself in the sacrifice of Jesus, the ultimate payment for all injustice, and though we might not feel recompensed in this life…

We can still rejoice in a God who does work all things to the good.

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