1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” This bible verse has consistently challenged me. How am I supposed to rejoice always and in all circumstances give thanks.
The answer comes in knowing that I am a beloved daughter of God and a member of the body of Christ. I can rejoice in knowing that Jesus gives the fullness of life. I can rejoice in knowing that the Holy Spirit is at work.
My household at Franciscan University helped me dive further into this topic. My household’s name is Gaudete in Via Crucis, which means rejoice on the way to the cross. I can rejoice in knowing that Jesus laid his life down and brought redemption. If Christ loves me enough to give me his life, then whatever I’m suffering now should seem small in comparison.
Models of Joy
One of the ways my household explored rejoicing on the way to the cross was by learning about the different lives of the saints. At our weekly saint night, we would learn about a saint and pick a virtue from their life to emulate.
Recently, I’ve been looking to Blessed Chiara Luce Banano and Chiara Corbella Petrillo as examples for finding joy no matter what the circumstances. They were both women who faced grave illness but always had radiant smiles on their faces and trusted in God’s plan. You can read more about Chiara Petrillo’s life in the book Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy. I’d like to emulate both of these amazing women’s unrelenting commitment to love.
Although I am no Chiara, I find much to rejoice in even when my health relapses a bit. When I switch supplements my body can feel fatigued and I’m more limited in what I can do. I might miss out on gatherings or have to change plans. I try to remember that when I’m called to rest and have pain that there’s still so much goodness all around me, so I keep praising God.
As I write this, I’m up at 2:00 AM in the morning with stomach pains. I find the good right now in having a heating pad. I use the time to hopefully glorify God through my writing and take advantage of the stillness and clarity that comes at night.
I also use this time to take up the night watch in prayer. I rejoice in the opportunity to pray for the brokenhearted, the people with depression who can’t sleep, or the exhausted moms who are up feeding their babies. I could mumble and grumble that I’m awake with a sore stomach, or I can thank God for all the good that comes in being awake.
We recently planned our first camping trip. We reserved the spot months in advance and were excited as the weekend drew near. Unfortunately, instead of camping, we ended up at the urgent care center because William gashed his head open on the garage door.
When the doctor said that William would need staples, I thought he was joking at first. I had never heard of staples being used on skin before. In the end, William ended up with eight staples and one gnarly-looking wound. Healing isn’t always pretty, but I’m so glad the doctor could do something to help him. We decided to skip the camping trip and use the weekend to get some extra rest and we thanked God for the time to recover.
Rejoicing in God’s Timing
That same weekend, an elderly gentleman asked us for a ride home from church. If we had gone camping that weekend, our car would have been too full of camping gear to help him out. I was surprised that God used out missed camping trip for the good of our fellow parishioner. We praised God for the opportunity to serve and for the ability to say “yes.”
God is good, no matter what the circumstance. His goodness is unending. Praise God for all the ways he’s blessing you, especially when you are at your wit’s end. Actively try to see the good, because that’s when it matters the most. This is what we are all called to do – “rejoice always”.
How are you rejoicing in your current circumstances?
Is your prayer life full of praise or complaints?
Is there a song or a certain prayer that helps lead your heart to praise?