Joy Ridderhoff, the founder of GRN, has a few of daily devotions on rejoicing, one called Count It All Joy! one called With Joy and Rejoicing! and another Are You Rejoicing? that are published on the GRN Website.
I found them by mistake one time as I was wandering through the site researching some information for one of my presentations for GRN.
She argued that Not to rejoice is in fact a Sin.
I struggled with this concept.
I finally concluded that there is no sin in not rejoicing but there is no doubt about the importance of Rejoicing.
Joy tells the story of her co-worker who rejoiced in the face of dire cercumstances.
It didn't make anything better but the co-worker went on rejoicing anyway.
I guess that story impressed me because it takes away from any idea that rejoicing is some sort of magic formula that causes God to do what you want him to do.
Praising the Lord no longer becomes the equivalent of winning tattslotto. But more than that it meant that there was more to rejoicing than just being happy in every situation.
It is possible to be confronting the worst set of circumstances and without being indifferent to the pain, still rejoice.
In one of the books about Joy, called "Mountain Singing" by Sanna Morrison Barlow, which I think is now out of print and it's not the best of reads anyway, Joy calls rejoicing a weapon. This is a concept that appeals to me greatly.
Still a little confused by the concept of rejoicing in the face of what in human terms is the insurmountable however, I've been doing some study on examples of rejoicing.
Of course the obvious place to do that study is the Psalms.
The most interesting thing about David's rejoicing, is that it is not the sort of thing that you would normally associate with a "good" charismatic service.
It's not unusual for David to literally dump on God.
David will often spend verse on verse about how desperate he was and how untenable his situation. His verse is full of how unjust his situation was and that he didn't know how much longer he could go on. And then right at the very end of these passages, David changes the whole tone of what he has been saying and says
"Praise the Lord!"
Read Ps 31 to read the impassioned plea of David as the torrents of his pain flood out to God.
How does he do that I wondered.
What do the verses actually say you are rejoicing in.
I reread the NT verses that calls on us to rejoice and I discovered something.
Mt 5:12 Rejoice and be glad because you have a great reward in heaven! The prophets who lived before you were persecuted in these ways.
Ga 4:27* Scripture says: “Rejoice, women who cannot get pregnant, who cannot give birth to any children! Break into shouting, those who feel no pains of childbirth! Because the deserted woman will have more children than the woman who has a husband.”
1Th 3:9 We can never thank God enough for all the joy you give us as we rejoice in God’s presence.
Php 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
(Read NIV version)
It does not say Praise the Lord, For everything, it says praise the Lord, IN, everything.
A GRN friend of mine who's wife has alzheimer's, made up a book mark with all the attributes of God
In the depths of our dispair these are the things that we praise God for. These are the things that remain constant no matter how desperate things get. And you know what,
I'm still and not a happy, bouncy, Praise the Lord sort of person. I don't expect to ever be. But I've learn that Praise is a weapon. I learned that in the face of the worst adversity it is possible to praise the Lord.
This is praising the Lord in all things. Praising him for all the things he is to us, not all the things confronting us.
Yes it is true that all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose. But we don't have to praise him for those things.We can praise him for the good that comes out of it.We can even praise him for the expected good that will come out of it.
But we are not expected to praise him for that problem or thing that is afflicting us.
These things may not go away in fact they may get worse. They did for me. But we praise him for all that He is, for all that he has done for us and for all that he will do for us.
In discovering this I discovered something else.I discovered that with this divine weapon, my heart was lifted, my coping mechanisms was reset and I was able to face another Day.
Praise the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.