4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
It’s not always easy to rejoice in our circumstances, but we can rejoice in what we have through Jesus Christ. I didn’t rejoice in what my father went through when he had cancer. I didn’t rejoice in his suffering, or in the suffering of my mother in the midst of her loss. But I could rejoice in my relationship with Christ; I rejoiced in the strength and peace He gave us. I rejoiced in the fact that I knew I would see my father again because of our common faith in Jesus Christ. Cancer is not a good thing, but you can experience God’s goodness, mercy and grace and rejoice in spite of it.
I’m not sure I know how to explain the idea of “gentleness” in verse 5. It’s been translated into many similar words. Maybe the best idea is humility filled with grace. I think it carries the idea of being patient with others even when they do you wrong, or having the right attitude even when you suffer. I know my dad did everything possible to fight the cancer and wanted to live. I know he wanted more years with my mother, me and my family. I know he wanted to be able to see his great grandkids some day. And in the midst of all his suffering, he never complained. He grieved, but I think that was more for my mom than himself. His gentleness and gracious spirit was evident to us even in the midst of his suffering.
I believe the only way you can face difficult circumstances and still experience and express joy is to have a deep abiding relationship with God through Jesus Christ. During those difficult days with daddy, God gave me a verse that I claimed over and over. Isaiah 41:10 says: Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Many times God calmed my fear. Many times He gave me just the strength I needed for that day. Many times I had to symbolically climb up in His lap and let Him hold me securely with His righteous right hand.
We don’t always get answers to the question WHY in this life. Yes, I asked that question when my dad was dying of cancer, but the issue for me moved from WHY to WHO. WHO can see me through and give me strength no matter what I face? For me, that WHO is first and foremost Jesus Christ; and then – the people I know who are genuine Christ-followers. Let me encourage you to develop some key relationships; 1st make sure you have a personal relationship with Christ, and 2nd make sure you cultivate relationships with some genuine believers by getting involved in church and take the next step by getting connected in a Small Group. If you do, I believe you’ll be able to rejoice at all times; even when facing difficult situations.