During hard times, it can be difficult to find the energy to rejoice. It feels easier to focus on how bad everything is and to dig in your feet and say, “Nope, nothing to be joyful about here.” I am frequently guilty of this. I often take a look at what is going on in the world and, instead of bringing my worries to God, I bury myself in how bad it is. In biblical times, there were many situations where believers could have lost all hope. But God’s promises break through and turn hard times into joy.
Although the Bible doesn’t shy away from telling believers how dark the world is, or from using the emotions that come from consequences of sin, it redirects our emotion toward the Solid Rock. When we don’t feel like rejoicing, we still can rejoice, because Jesus has overcome everything. Here are four verses to help you rejoice even when things seem bleak.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Philippians is a book all about joy, which is surprising since it was written by Paul while he was in a prison cell. Yet Paul is so joyful! He knows that his situation is temporary and that the joy found in Christ was eternal. In this verse, which ends the Letter to the Philippians, Paul recognizes that “the grace of the Lord Jesus is what joins His Spirit with ours so that we live fully” (note for Philippians 4:23 in The Lutheran Study Bible).
When we have Christ’s Spirit in us, we can rejoice because He grants us a life in full—even when our current circumstances don’t feel like it. The grace and forgiveness found in Jesus are with us, and the Holy Spirit helps us to rejoice in knowing that He has given us life.
Psalm 118: 24
This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
The psalms are the perfect place to turn to when you are feeling any emotion. They guide us to think about our feelings and then point us to the truth. Psalm 118 may have been written for celebration. Luther called it his “own beloved psalm.” Its words lead us to worship and rejoice as they remind us of how faithful the Lord has been.
When looking at your day and other days ahead, you can know that every day is in the Lord’s plan, even if what is going on in your personal life or in the world don't appear that way. Every day is a day He has made.
Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Let’s dig into this verse a little bit. When I first read “delight in the LORD,” it didn’t quite make sense to me. What does it mean to delight in the Lord? We know that all good comes from Him and that we find happiness in Christ. The world will fail us, but God’s promises never fail. To delight in Him then means that we replace worry and envy with intentional trust.
Going further into the verse, we see that the desires this verse is discussing are not trivial. Desires of the “heart” are for what is right and lawful according to Scripture. As you intentionally spend time with the Lord—through His Word, other believers, and other places where He says He’ll be—the Holy Spirit will line up your desires with God’s desires.
Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
In Jesus’ time, many religious leaders preferred to live under the heavy burden of manmade rules and regulations that missed the heart of God’s Law. They wanted to find salvation on their own. Jesus flipped that on its head by giving the Gospel that provides rest.
When we don’t feel like rejoicing, it can be because it seems too strenuous to do so. But Jesus promises that when we come to Him, He will give us rest. He will relieve us of the need to rely on ourselves to find rest and peace. When we rejoice in Him, we can remind ourselves that the pressure is off of us to have it all figured out.
By rejoicing when we don’t feel like it, we recognize that God is still good. Christ is where we find true hope, peace, and rest. God is still working, even when we don’t feel like He is.
Meditate on joyful Scripture with bookmarks, coloring pages, and more.