We live in a context where our lives are rarely free from complexity, struggle, and demands. You may have grown up hearing and thinking that “daily taking up our cross” was not only a faithful response but also an unavoidable one. You probably know someone whose motto is “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” It may even be yours. Those feeling the challenge of life might even say, “Life is tough. Get used to it.”
The Apostle Paul knew that many people complain about the difficulty of being faithful. They might have reminded him that renewal is hard work and responding takes concerted effort. They might even have said: “And now you tell us that we’re supposed to rejoice in all this effort? Isn’t that asking too much?” Paul surely heard their complaint but Paul heard also where they placed their emphasis. They felt they could not rejoice in all this hard work and effort. So Paul repeated his words to them: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” I have not asked you to rejoice in your efforts, or in the challenges of life. But rather, I tell you to rejoice in the Lord—in the one who is with you in all of this effort and amidst all of the challenges.
Our deepest and most enduring rejoicing seems to manifest when we use our gifts on behalf of others. When we experience ourselves as generous, compassionate, creative and courageous for the sake of others, it can be renewing. And what’s not to celebrate in this?
Today we remember Johann Sebastian Bach (1750), Heinrich Schutz (1672), and George Frederick Handel (1759), musicians. This message was adapted from “Rejoice” written by Catherine Malotky and David Engelstad that first appeared in the July/August 2011 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine.