“Rejoice evermore (always).”I Thessalonians 5:16
My wife loves it when it rains while the sun is still out. In Phoenix, rain is rare and since the rain and the sun are very different things, it is pretty cool when they happen at the same time. The rain usually comes when the sky is dark and ominous and the clouds look like they are filled with tears. We do not see many days like this as our days are more often filled with the sun shining as bright as can be. On a sunny day, there is not a cloud in the sky and rain seems to be a distant memory. It seems like an impossibility to have rain and sunshine at the same time, but it does happen and it is neat when it does.
I have had some times in my life when every day felt like a rainy day. I found nothing to be thankful for, and I sure did not find anything to rejoice in. One time in particular, I was working at a church when I was called to the prayer room on a Wednesday morning. I was told by our pastor that, while there was nothing I did wrong, I was being let go to pursue other opportunities with my degree. I was puzzled, hurt, and taken aback by what he said. I had attended this church for 11 years of my life, and I was not sure what to do. I did not take into account that God was working out His plan for my life, and I can promise you that I was not rejoicing as I lost my job.
I left the church to pick up my mom who was flying in for my daughter’s birthday the following day. The timing was terrible but I am not sure there is a good time to lose your job. I picked up my mom from the airport and put the radio on a satellite station I thought she would like when I got a message that came across the screen saying that payment was due, and I lost my signal. Talk about kicking someone while they’re down! I figured I would get a job right away, but it seemed like the interviews I went on led to dead ends. I felt so low and throughout that time I did not rejoice. My spiritual life was at a low as well as I looked around at my problems instead of praying to my God who promised to meet my needs.
My wife made a list of things God was teaching us throughout that time, but I failed to see a single one of them. I failed to rejoice always, even though there was much to be thankful for and rejoice in. I had lost my joy even though my spiritual decline was due to me focusing on me and not focusing on God. I prayed for a job, but I did not pray for God to use this challenging time to draw me closer to Him. My prayers were selfish, and all I thought about was me. I did not delight in the trial God allowed in my life, and I failed to rejoice in all the goodness He had already given me. I was still saved, I still had direct access to the throne of God through prayer, and I had a wife who still believed in me even though I felt like a loser because I did not have a job. My kids really didn’t know any different and they showed me unconditional love like kids often do. My mom watched the kids for me so I could look for a job, and we got a healthy tax return that allowed us to maintain our way of life without missing a meal. The church gave me two weeks of severance, and I found a job within five weeks.
During that time, I failed to rejoice and see all the things God was doing, and I failed to obey God’s command to rejoice always. Instead, I complained always and felt sorry for myself. Looking back, I can see how good God was, even though I failed to see it at the time. It was much like looking for sunshine amidst the rain, and if we ponder for a moment, we will find things we can rejoice about. Isaiah 61:10 states, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”
Where are you today? Does it seem like it is always raining and you cannot see the sun through the rain? God is still good even when it seems things are upside down. It would be impossible to name all the things God does for us on a daily basis, but it would be helpful and encouraging to list His blessings and rejoice in them. Matthew 6:26 states, “Behold (Look at) the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better (of more value) than they?” May we realize the care our Father has for us, and may we rejoice always in the goodness of our God. Is God good? All the time!