1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Natural inclinations – weak, short sighted, selfish, human. In moments when situations and circumstances are great we rejoice, and maybe give some credit where it’s due (thanks to God). In seasons of difficulty, when the proverbial poop is hitting the fan, we tend to be angry, confused, and fearful.
Emotion clouds our judgement and leads to thoughts and actions that are far from the rejoicing we’re taught about in 1 Thessalonians. It isn’t unreasonable to believe that the further we are from rejoicing the further we are from God’s will.
As I reflect on the circumstances of the difficult season my family has been through recently I realize the fruit of going against the natural inclination, the fruit of rejoicing instead of worrying, questioning, or being frustrated. We’ve experienced an outpouring of support spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially. God has worked through everyone around us to prove faithful to His promises to never leave us and never forsake us, to be our source of strength, and to provide our every need. For all those things we are humbly and overwhelmingly grateful.
None of those things are the fruit of rejoicing though. What if we didn’t experience all those wonderful things, or if none of it happened in our expectation of time, or if we didn’t have the wisdom to recognize or acknowledge them when they happened? Would we rejoice anyway? The fruit of rejoicing is not what we’re getting or experiencing when things are good, and it’s not whatever we’re hoping to eventually have or experience when things are bad. The fruit of rejoicing is… Joy. Do you have it?