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Erik Lutz, AiG–U.S., discusses the biblical command to rejoice at all times, even when things are tough.
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
Today’s big question: how can we rejoice through pain?
As I write this devotional, thoughts from the past week flood my mind. I’ve been confused by a lot of seemingly difficult circumstances and pain—physical, mental, and emotional—culminating in the sudden, tragic death of my neighbor last evening.
A quote from the movie The Princess Bride keeps repeating in my mind. Westley said, “Life is pain. . . . Anyone who says differently is selling something.” Without Christ, this is often true. We can attempt to numb the pain—as so many do with alcohol and drugs—or distract ourselves with all kinds of temporary pleasures, but this only masks the hurt. Whenever the fleeting feelings of circumstantial happiness leave us floating alone in the ocean of life, the pain is there waiting to drag us under—and we find ourselves gasping for breath.
No earthly thing can truly satisfy your soul. Our souls are not designed to be fulfilled by earthly things because we were created by God and for God (Colossians 1:16). And because God is good, He has not created us for pain. Humans are designed for joy, but true joy is only found in God.
Since we all turn away from God and try to make our own way (Isaiah 53:6), our lives are filled with difficulty and trials resulting from sin. Sin brings suffering—whether it’s our sin, the sin of others around us, or the original sin of the first man, Adam. God does not enjoy inflicting pain on His creation, but He does pour out judgment. He also allows pain, and we can use it as an opportunity to grow in wisdom, faith, and perseverance.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:2–5)
James said to consider the trials in life to be “all joy” because of the ultimate goal: becoming more like Christ. Rejoicing is not just a better way to live; it is the right way to live. In today’s verse alone we are emphatically commanded to rejoice always.
This world is passing away, but you will live forever. For the believer, pain is temporary, but joy is eternal. A day is coming when pain will be destroyed, and we will never feel hurt again (Revelation 21:1–7), but for now we must walk by faith through the trials.
Today’s big idea: you were created for joy in Christ, so rejoice in every moment.
What to pray: ask the Lord for wisdom so you can rejoice even through the pain.