Be joyful and praise God whatever the circumstances



God wants us to learn to praise Him even in difficult circumstances.

(1 Th 5:16-18 NIV)  Be joyful always; {17} pray continually; {18} give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

(Job 1:18-21 NIV)  While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, {19} when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” {20} At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship {21} and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”

(Hab 3:17-18 NIV)  Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, {18} yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Why we can rejoice

 (1 Chr 16:10-15 NIV)  Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. {11} Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. {12} Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, {13} O descendants of Israel his servant, O sons of Jacob, his chosen ones. {14} He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth. {15} He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations,

We will emerge victorious
We can look to the Lord for His strength

(Exo 15:2 NIV)  The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

(Psa 21:1 NIV)  For the director of music. A psalm of David. O LORD, the king rejoices in your strength. How great is his joy in the victories you give!

God has already shown us His faithfulness through past experiences

(Psa 77:8-12 NIV)  Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? {9} Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Selah {10} Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.” {11} I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. {12} I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.

Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles…

His promises never fail

(Josh 21:43-45 NIV)  So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. {44} The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them. {45} Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

God is still in control

(1 Chr 16:31 NIV)  Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”

When everything around us seems to be going wrong, it is hard to imagine that God is still in control. But we are told to rejoice because God IS in control.

God will deliver us

(Deu 32:43 NIV)  Rejoice, O nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people.

Thank God for the future good in the situation

Joseph was treated unjustly but he never complained; he simply complied. Joseph understood God’s plan.

Genesis 50:19-20 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? {20} You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

What does it mean to be content.

Contentment is not zombie-like indifference to the things around us. Nor is it looking at life with rose-tinted glasses. Contentment means that you acknowledge that God has permitted your circumstances for a good reason, therefore you are not bitter about it.

Evaluate the positives of the situation
Evaluate what God is trying to teach you
Perseverance

James 1:3-4 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. {4} Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

(Romans 5:3-4 NIV) Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; {4} perseverance, character; and character, hope.

When we work towards relieving our suffering, which can take some time, we learn perseverance. This perseverance is useful in our other endeavors.

Suffering can also train us to endure. In the military camps, soldiers undergo tremendous hardships so that during war, they would be better prepared to endure sufferings. Likewise the endurance we build in our suffering can be used to help us to endure other things such as hard work, insults, etc.

Strength in character

Romans 5:3  We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. 4And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.

Humility

Deuteronomy 8:2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.

(2 Cor 12:7-9 NIV)  To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. {8} Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. {9} But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Patience

Dependence on God

(2 Cor 12:7-9 NIV)  To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. {8} Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. {9} But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Compassion

(Heb 2:18 NIV)  Because he (ie Jesus) himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Even Jesus’ ministry benefited from His experiences.

Likewise, when we have suffered, we are more compassionate towards others who are going through the same thing and are able to help them.

Faith that God is in control of the situation

God is still in control no matter how desperate the situation. When Elisha was surrounded by his enemies, he knew that his enemies were in turn surrounded by God.

(2 Ki 6:13-17 NIV)  “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” {14} Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. {15} When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. {16} “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” {17} And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

When we encounter problems, let’s remember that God is still in control in the midst of our problems.

Accepting God’s sovereignty

(Job 1:18-21 NIV)  While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, {19} when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” {20} At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship {21} and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”

Others

If we have conflict with our boss, God may be trying to teach us submission. If we failed in our job, God may be teaching us faithfulness and dependability.

Evaluate what God may be trying to accomplish
Turn us away from sin

What we call trials may actually be the punishment that God has inflicted on us so that we will turn away from sin and back to Him.

(Heb 12:7-8 NIV)  Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? {8} If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.

Incident gives glory to Him

(John 9:1-3 NIV)  As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. {2} His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” {3} “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

Work bad things for good
Joseph

Betrayed by his brothers. Sold and carried off to Egypt. Patiently worked his way to the top only to lose it all and wind up in prison – his only crime being he was too honest & decent a man. Joseph realized that God’s hand is in all these events and whatever men meant for evil, God meant for good.

 

Move us according to His will

Other examples could be God causing us to lose our job so that we can move into His will.

Evaluate the rewards of overcoming trials
Job

Job passed the test by not cursing God even though he went through so much suffering. As a result God blessed Job more in his latter years than He did in his former years.

(Job 42:12 NIV)  The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys.

Abraham

Abraham was promised many descendants. Yet God put him to the test when he had to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham obeyed God anyway and God indeed rewarded him with many descendants.

The trials are only temporal

(Psa 23:4 NIV)  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

God does not bring us to the valley of the shadow of death and leave us there. He walks us through them. That means that our trials are going to be temporal.

(2 Cor 4:16-17 NIV)  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. {17} For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

The trials will not overtake us

(2 Cor 4:8-9 NIV)  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; {9} persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

One fine example is Paul. Even though he had gone through numerous trials, he was not overtaken by them.

(2 Cor 11:24-27 NIV)  Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. {25} Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, {26} I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. {27} I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

We often think our trials are very severe. Yet in comparison with what Paul went through, most of us can say that they are not as severe. If God could sustain Paul even through these situations of great difficulty, He can also sustain you.

God has promised that we will be more than conquerors with His help.

(Rom 8:35-39 NIV)  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? {36} As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” {37} No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. {38} For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, {39} neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There will be times that we will experience apparent defeat. Even the Son of God experienced apparent defeat. His followers thought that He was down and out when He was crucified on the cross. Yet the defeat was only apparent and temporary and victory bursts off with His resurrection and victory over death.

What happens when we rejoice
God will be found of us when we seek Him through rejoicing

(1 Chr 16:10 NIV)  Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

When we are in adversity and would like to see the Lord, we can do so through rejoicing.

God delivers us from our problems

(Acts 16:22-26 NIV)  The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. {23} After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. {24} Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. {25} About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. {26} Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.

The story want to tell us that Paul and Silas’ deliverance from the prison was the direct result of them praising God. When they did so, immediately their bonds were loosen.

Another fine example of this is King Jehoshaphat.

(2 Chr 20:2 NIV)  Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi).

(2 Chr 20:14-15 NIV)  Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. {15} He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

(2 Chr 20:21-22 NIV)  After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.” {22} As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.

God does not want us to wait for our problems to disappear before we start to praise Him. He wants us to praise Him for His promises even before they come to pass. When we praise God, He begins to work on the promises.

God’s name is glorified

{25} About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

This is true whether we like it or not. We are being watched by other people. Especially when we as Christians are trying to tell them about Jesus.

When non-Christians see that we pull a long face and lose all trust in God when we have adversity, it does not speak well of our God. Isn’t our God powerful enough to deliver us from our problems?

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