Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say, “Rejoice.” This is a command of the Lord, not a suggestion or good idea. We are to rejoice, even in hard times and hope for better times to come. Even when the bills are too big and there’s “more month than money,” we rejoice. Even when the fields are barren, the trees are bare, and there’s longer winter, shorter growing, and even shorter patience, we rejoice. You’ve lost your job? A family member has passed? We can rejoice. What can God’s people rejoice in, when life is so hard? In Joel 2:18-32, God proclaims four things we can rejoice in.
We rejoice in a jealous God. God’s love for all humanity is sure and seen, but His intentional and special love for His people is clear and certain. Just as you may love a sport in general but have a special affinity for your favorite team, God’s love for all people is not the same as for His people. God’s people can rejoice in His jealous love for them.
We rejoice in joy and being able to rejoice. God cut off joy in His judgment for His people’s sin, but it was restored. God will do great things and make all things new. He will bring wholeness and peace to His people, His land, even His animals! He will fix and renew the wasted, lost years of brokenness and sin. Being able to rejoice, even in hard times, is a unique gift of God’s people.
We rejoice in praise in His presence. He is with His people and we give Him worship and glory. We recount His many blessings and trust in Him through the hard times. He is with us and will never forsake us, despite blizzards, airplane engine failures, or cancer.
Finally, we rejoice in the future. After hardship and difficult times, God pours out His Spirit. His people’s sins are paid for through Jesus and this time of hope will come. Everyone who calls on His name will be saved, and God will rescue those whom He calls. His people will be in the place of His presence, near to Him and escaping and surviving the world at war. This promise is ours to claim.
I don’t always feel like rejoicing. Life is hard, but God’s people are unique. We rejoice in a unique God and unique promises, through a unique Savior. He is a jealous God, a restoring God, a God of present and future assurance. Where do you fit in? Where is your joy? Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, “Rejoice!”