"Rejoice" is my word of the year for 2021. God gently placed this idea on my heart at the beginning of the year. This year, I am going to make it my goal to find joy in the midst of suffering.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
In a recent conversation with one of my mentors, we talked about the nature of verse 16. She asked, "How does 'rejoice always' feel to you? Does it feel like a command or a suggestion?" After some thought and discussion, we came to the conclusion that God intended this verse as a command. That brought up the question, "But what if I'm not rejoicing right now?"
This is a difficult question to answer. My natural response is to feel guilty for not following one of God's commands. Yet God does not respond in the way a human would. Yes, it is a command—but he realizes how difficult it is, and he accepts us wherever we are. God wants us to come to him even when we aren't rejoicing. We don't have to feel guilty for our frustration or confusion or doubt or whatever we feel instead of joy. He wants us to bring all of ourselves to him, all the time. God wants to take the burdens we're carrying and give us strength to continue on the journey. It's okay if you're not rejoicing right now—and God wants us to bring that to him. He can only truly help us when we lay our burdens at his feet and ask him for help.
Journey with me. Let's practice choosing joy in the midst of suffering. And when it's hard, when we feel like we can't take another step, let's have the courage to bring it to God. He'd love to join our journey towards joy. Join me. Let's rejoice in 2021.