“I don’t believe in bad days.”
I remember saying these words aloud for the first time to my college roommate. Her face twisted into some kind of annoyed disbelief, and I stifled a giggle. I hadn’t realized that I held this conviction until the words flew out of my mouth. I said this after she had shared with me about the stream of bad days she experienced that week. Often, I struggled with the phrases “bad day” or “bad week". They seemed dismissive of any possible good moments that may have happened among many hard ones.
I’m sure I came across as insensitive in response to her misery. So I tried to encourage her, asking if there had been any blessings during her week that she could remember.
A Choice to Rejoice
There are certainly hard moments and difficult circumstances that we face each and every day. Some days we deal with frustrating people. Most days, we come up against some sort of inconvenience. Sometimes we have difficult relationships to navigate at work, in our family, or in our church. We even walk through entire seasons of intense suffering. And every once in a while, we get life-altering news that can turn our entire world upside down.
But rejoicing is a choice.
We can practice joy as a lifestyle. It is both a proactive and reactive decision. The daily investment of spending time in God’s Word, praying, worshipping in his presence, and surrounding ourselves with biblical community equips us to respond with a deeply-rooted joy when troubles arise. Every investment in our spiritual health, no matter how big or small, is a life-giving choice. It steers us on a path of righteousness and holiness as we follow the example of Jesus.
Rejoicing in Dying-To-Self
Our faith is built through many small steps of obedience and sacrifices of living for him. These are the humble, dying-to-self moments when Christ refines the selfishness and pride we so easily slip into. We see Jesus teach this principle to his disciples in Matthew 16:24–26: “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?’”
Notice how Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to take up their beach towel and follow him? Or their gym bag? He told them that they must take up their own cross and follow him. Why? Because he wasn’t headed to the beach or the gym—Jesus was headed to his own death by means of a cross. As we follow Jesus’ example and surrender to our own metaphorical death of self, he gracefully destroys the power of sin over us. Jesus' death on a cross led to his resurrection. The very same power that conquered sin, death, and the grave is available to all who follow him and profess him as Lord and Savior! Jesus so beautifully shows us how death can lead to new life, and in this truth, we rejoice!
Learning How to Rejoice
While I’m sure my roommate thought I was an eternal optimist on that bright, sunshiny day in our college apartment kitchen, I’m actually not a natural optimist. In my flesh, I struggle with negativity, criticism, and anger. I lived many years being frustrated by inconveniences, bitter at the rejection of others, and impatient with people and processes. These reactions in me have been exposed throughout my faith journey with Jesus. And he has taught me that the most trying times in life can also be used for his most purposeful growth, sanctification, and refining within me.
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 instructs us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” In our flesh, none of us have the natural desire to respond to “all circumstances” with rejoicing, prayer, and giving thanks. This verse might feel dismissive to those walking in a season of deeply painful circumstances. If this phrase is interpreted and applied without biblical context and clarity, it could lead some to resent God. We may believe he expects us to just be happy all the time. Almost as if God doesn’t take our heartbreaks seriously.
But the good news is that God is the author of our lives. He knows every single detail about our circumstances. And he cares deeply about what hurts us. So if God thinks it’s possible for us to rejoice always, and desires that his children give thanks in all circumstances, praying without ceasing, then there must be a source from where we receive the strength and ability to do this. God has graciously given us the gift of the Holy Spirit for this very reason (Eph. 1:17–20)!
Our Greatest Source of Joy
There’s a powerful passage of Scripture that my church-planter husband passionately refers to as “the power play for the believer.” You see, in John 15, we learn of a very important power outlet that we have the choice to “plug into” daily. According to John 15:5, if we as followers of Jesus abide in him and he abides in us, then we will bear much fruit.
When we remain connected to this great source of strength and joy throughout the day, his power is at work within us. This power allows us to pray, praise, give thanks, and rejoice. It also equips us to do so many other life-giving things in our faith journey! Apart from him, we can do nothing (v. 5). But in him, our joy can be complete (v. 11).
We rejoice not in the things that happen to or around us, nor in the hopes or thrills this world has to offer. But our joy is found in the person of Jesus Christ. We rejoice in a Savior who has redeemed and reconciled us from our brokenness (Titus 2:14). We can rejoice in every circumstance because of who he is. He is worthy of our praise, worship, and adoration.
May we choose to abide in him, believing his promise of a fruitful life. There is so much joy to be found in God’s presence! We were made to enjoy and experience a deep and fulfilling relationship with our good, good Father. We get to display his love and glory to the lost and broken world around us.
Resources for Cultivating a Lifestyle of Rejoicing by Abiding in Christ
- Keep Scripture before you as much as possible in your everyday life. Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The more you spend time in the transformational Word of God, the more you will be compelled to rejoice. Check out Well-Watered Women’s newest resources specifically designed to help you memorize and meditate on Scripture!
Rejoice in Worship
- Cultivate a heart of praise and worship by letting the truths of the gospel stir in your heart through song. The Well-Watered Book playlist is a great place to start!
Walk with the Spirit
- Seek to keep in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5:16). Check out the Flourish bundle for an eight-week study (and accompanying verse card set) that will help you dig deep and plant seeds of gospel truth. You'll study the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22–23.
- Or, check out the Fruit of the Spirit mug, which serves as a beautiful reminder of the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control the Spirit enables us to exhibit.
Rejoice in your Thoughts
- Think on praiseworthy things as you go about your day (Phil. 4:8). Check out the various sets of verse cards in the Well-Watered Co. to help you meditate on the praiseworthy truths found in Scripture.
- Use the Whatever notepad to help you consider these things as you jot down notes, or the Whatever canvas tote bag to remind you of them as you’re on the go.
Meet the author:
Kristin Link is a wife, mother, and church planter. Kristin and her husband, Steven, adopted their first child, Aaro, from India before the pandemic. And she enjoys spending her days as a stay-at-home mom with him in this season. She enjoys thrift shopping, writing poetry, and traveling the world. The Lord has given her and her husband, Steven, a heart for global missions and a passion to see the last remaining unreached people groups of the world receive the good news of the gospel in their lifetime. The Links relocated to Athens, Georgia last spring, where the Lord has called their family to church-plant near the University of Georgia. You can follow along with Kristin and Steven on their church planting journey at the Phoenix Community of Athens website or through their social media, @phoenixcommunityofathens.