Through Gritted Teeth and Bitter Lips
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!—Philippians 4:4 Just reading those words –“ Rejoice in the Lord always!”—puts a melody in my mind, and a picture of children singing Sunday school lessons. It’s a happy sound.
But not a simplistic thought.
The apostle Paul’s answer to life’s problem was simple— rejoice in the Lord—always!
Rejoicing is an act of will, not always in agreement with our hearts. Rejoicing in God’s love creates a climate change around us. Discord dies when people are rejoicing together. Distressing thoughts are replaced by thoughts of the Lord, His love, His nearness, His comfort, wisdom, power, and care.
The truth is, life can be hard. There are times when we carry a burden that threatens to crush us to dust. Painful grieving over lost ones or fearful circumstances can cause us to long for death.
Regret can eat away at our insides; remorse may tear out our hearts until we groan the agony of a soul in pain.
Paul’s answer was not meant to be simplistic or denying reality. He knew the secret to surviving such crushing pain. Rejoice – rejoice in God’s power, His love, His ability to carry us through terrible times. He can help our hearts forgive and let go of bitterness.
I have been through such a time, when “rejoicing” was expressed through gritted teeth and bitter lips. When there is NOTHING to rejoice in except the Lord because all else seems to have failed. God understands when we are humanly incapable of rejoicing. It is His power and His Spirit that give us the inner joy that bubbles to the surface as “rejoice!”
That’s when we learn that the Lord is too wise to make mistakes in our lives, too loving to ignore us, too powerful to have His purposes thwarted, too involved in all that concerns us to be aloof and distant. The Lord can “restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25), “heal the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1), and turn evil into saving grace.
“He who obeys the command 'rejoice in the Lord,' has a hallelujah in his soul every minute of the day and night.” —A. C. Dixon (1854-1925)1
- Warren W. Wiersbe, Classic Sermons on Praise, (Kregel Publications, 1994), p. 33.