Perhaps one time you came home in your nice work clothes and your younger kids, who were enjoying a water fight, sprayed you with the garden hose, maybe accidentally, maybe not, but you got wet enough that you got annoyed. Then one of your older kids came around the corner and threw a bucket of water on you, believing that you needed it. There’s certainly now no way you’re just going to go inside and dry out. You’re soaked. You might as well have some fun.
Now, instead of picturing your kids pitching pails of water at you, imagine that all the pails are printed with “2020.”
How should you respond? It’s a short answer.
The shortest verse in the Bible is not John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” Counting letters in the original language, there are 16 characters in three words. But the Greek text of 1 Thessalonians 5:16 includes only 14 characters in two words, typically translated, “Rejoice always” (ESV, NAS, NKJV, NIV, NRSV). The variations are not really that diverse: “Rejoice evermore” (KJV) and “Always rejoice ye” (YLT). Though it’s the shortest, it may be the second most difficult command to obey in Scripture after loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
This command comes in the final chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians and near the middle of 17 different exhortations. We ought not separate it from its context but we can focus on it. Rejoice. Always.
How have you done rejoicing in 2020? What percentage of proactive rejoicing have you done? Do you make rejoicing the agenda at your meal times and get-togethers? What percentage of reactive rejoicing have you done? When the next news cycle announces the newest outrage, the current fiasco, how do you process it? Do you mix rejoicing in with your burdens or reports of bad news? Paul said he was “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). Rejoicing does not eliminate heaviness (see 1 Peter 1:6), but it does flavor, lighten, and transpose that heaviness.