At the end of 2019, I remember stumbling past these verses more times than I could imagine. They popped up in my private studies, in podcasts, in books, and sermons. Constant reminders that these words couldn’t be ignored and felt more prompts to take these words captive to my soul.
“The LORD your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will be quiet in his love. He will delight in you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Romans 12:12 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them shout for joy forever. May you shelter them, and may those who love your name boast about you. Psalm 5:11 So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy from you. John 16:22 Did you notice a common theme or word? - R E J O I C E. I knew this was to be my word for 2020 but I was more than confused. After all, my word usually was a lesson or something blatantly obvious I needed to learn. I just couldn't place why rejoice was the lesson of the year especially when my first and middle name BOTH mean joy. Laughable and very obnoxious of me to think I had a handle on something I was given, not earned-- kind of like grace and mercy, wink wink.
The word rejoice occurs 172 times in the Christian Standard Bible. A word that occurs so frequently is one that must have significant meaning or serves as a reminder in our journey as followers of Jesus.
“The LORD your God is among you,
a warrior who saves.
He will rejoice over you with gladness.
He will be quiet in his love.
He will delight in you with singing.”
In Zephaniah, “he will rejoice,” is translated from
sygchairō, immense joy
This verse has great depth of grace and unconditional love. God is begging his people to return from their selfish and sinful ways and trust in Him to save them. And as if that’s not enough, He promises to REJOICE and take great delight in them, quieting them, reassuring them of His love all while DELIGHTING in them. I know as a parent, this is a hard reality to DELIGHT in my kids when they’ve been disobedient. But God the Father rejoices in them, showing Jerusalem the most perfect love.
To know that God still rejoices in me when I make mistakes was a hard lesson I’ve needed day after day in the last year, challenging me daily to teach that to my girls. That in the darkest parts of me, He rejoices in me and I need to display this love to them. Their actions don’t cause me to waiver in the joy I have for them but show grace and love despite their actions.
Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.
These words pack a great punch and I could talk about the depth of what this meant in my life in the last year but the strength of it comes not from my experience, but the meaning. Paul is saying to the reader, to be reminded of the HOPE we have in a SAVIOR and that is OUR HOPE, and to REJOICE, to celebrate, to have JOY in that alone. That should be at the core of every circumstance and every decision. He reminds us that while we are in affliction, in pain, or experience loss, we are to BE PATIENT. Ouch. And if we forget that, go back to our HOPE, rejoicing in Him. Paul then gently reminds us of the power of prayer. Prayer isn’t just a discipline or a request from God the Father, it is a tool that He provides so that we can wrestle, we can communicate and trust Him with our internal struggle and unrest.
After such a manner pray ye; the whole of your mind, your memory, your judgement, your affection, your hopes, your fears, and even your imagination must be concentrated upon this labour of prayer. May the Holy Ghost work in you this comprehensive ardour, this energy of the whole man. We must go with our whole soul to God or he will not accept us. It will be ill for us if we are half-hearted, for it is written, “their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty.”A Sermon
Delivered on Lord’s-Day Morning, June 22nd, 1879, by
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them shout for joy forever.
May you shelter them,
and may those who love your name boast about you.
Jesus allowed this verse to echo so many times over the last year. When He was refining things in me, when I was angry, when I was grieving or nurturing family who was in deep grief, when I didn’t know what ministry would look like past quarantine, these words were a reminder of how He provided a great shelter. That His name alone deserved all the glory and honor and many times that was surrounded in a time of wrestling in prayer, combining those verses together.
So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy from you.
These are words of His steadfastness. That while the rest of the world was/is trembling and there was/is more unknown than constant. HE IS CONSISTENT. This challenges the most devoted follower that we need to believe this to our core. That’s when we can boast, that’s when we can shout for JOY. We’ve been in the shelter of the ONE who provides a safe space for refuge and we can tell of His great works in us, the One who deserves all the honor and praise.
That’s REJOICING. It’s not defined as an emotion, a feeling, or even an experience. It’s at the core of our belief, that He is steadfast and that He is our HOPE and JOY. Our rejoicing cannot stem from any part of us, it’s far too fleeting but must rest in the one who can promise us this without failing. In fact, He reminds us of when we trust Him, no one can take that away. So while it may feel like everything is crumbling around us, we have the ability to REJOICE.
Praying that you find a time today to REJOICE in what He has done in your life.