“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:18-20
God hates evil and He commands us to hate it as well so so these verses certainly don’t mean we are to rejoice in evil, per se, However, we should believe Romans 8:28, which tells us God will work all things together for our good, including evil things that happen to us.
Believing this frees us to thank God in the middle of difficult and even evil circumstances, knowing that in His sovereign grace, He is accomplishing great, eternal purposes in us through these things. We walk by faith, believing in what God has done, is doing, and will do to bring a good end to all that troubles us. Choosing to rejoice, recounting our blessings in the midst of trials, affirms trust in God.
This response requires faith that God lovingly superintends our challenges. Viewing our sufferings as random or obsessing over someone else’s bad choices that caused our sufferings robs us of happiness. A weak, small, or faulty view of God always poisons the well of our contentment.
Being Spirit controlled is inseparable from giving thanks in everything. The more we grow in our understanding of God’s attributes, the happier we become.
.The deeper our knowledge of God’s character, the deeper our reservoir of strength, perspective, and happiness in hard times. Who is this God we are to trust? What is He really like?
Scripture teaches that we have a God who loves us and is sovereign over the universe, including all evil. We can’t be happy, and remain happy, without believing in the sovereignty of a loving God. The beauty of the Christian worldview is that while we’re encouraged to take initiative and control what’s within our power, we also know that the enormous part of life we can’t control is under God’s governance.
Scripture tells us, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” Psalm 115:3. It assures us, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9. And since God is eternally wise and good and happy, and we’re not, we’re far better off with Him, not us, in control.
“Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
“Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17.
“In light of that eternal glory being achieved for us by our momentary troubles, Paul offers the following words of eternal perspective: “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” 2 Corinthians 4:1
This article is excerpted from Randy Alcorn’s book Does God Want Us to Be Happy?
Addendum: When times are difficult, hard, and bring sorrow, then remember, chose to bring to mind, the wonderful deliverance Jesus has achieved for you. Then put on the garment of praise. The spirit of heaviness will depart – no need to let things depress us and get us down. He will never leave us nor forsake us, He will bring good out of every situation for us. God is good. Sometimes it takes effort to start to praise God – especially if we come from a dark place, a place of difficulty or even a place of tragedy. Yet be transformed by the renewing of your mind, and sing and shout your praises to God, breakthrough into the inexpressible joy of the Lord – it is the place of strength for life.