We all have times of discouragement. Often I know I have unwittingly set up some of these times for myself by not resting or eating properly or by being overly self-critical, demanding, or seeking assurance through activity-overload.
Other times we are called to suffer for the cause of Christ.
Both circumstances bring the possibility of depression. Yet in either circumstance we are told to seek out and think on what is good, and to keep on rejoicing.
Depression is loss of joy. It is like being trapped in a foreign land – foreign because it has no joy. When the Israelites were captured and forced to sing a joyous song they asked Psa. 137:4 How can we sing the LORD’S song in a foreign land? Depressing, right? Captured, enslaved, and expected to sing your happy song from home?
Rejoicing, on the other hand, means to fill with joy. To fill takes action, and when you fill something, there is no room for anything else.
Sometimes it is really hard to ‘feel’ the joy…to find the joy in the circumstance. Other times you can fill the emptiness by adding little drops of joy, one after the other.
Today I read something about rejoicing that surprised me.
1Pet. 4:13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.
The length of time, the intensity of the trial, all can wear us down, but here we are told to not stop rejoicing…to keep on rejoicing! To the degree of the trial.
So if it goes longer, gets more painful, and depression escalates, it’s a sign we need to rejoice MORE.
Os Hillman (TGIF devotionals) expresses it as an attitude change “from discouragement to praise”. He tells the story of a time he was discouraged:
A godly man came to me and said, “You must keep moving! There are too many who are depending on you in the Kingdom.” I didn’t totally understand what he meant at the time. Now I know he was saying that God is preparing each of us to be the vessel He wants to use in the life of another person, but we will never be that vessel if we give up and hide in our cave of discouragement.
Does that encourage you to realize that you could be in a time of discouragement to prevent you from encouraging another person? That turning your attitude around can affect more people than yourself? It encourages me to look beyond myself to the person(s) God wants me to bless. It excites me to shout:
Let’s get out of the cave! Let’s keep the rejoicing flowing!
Turn up the music, put down the top on the convertible, dance like no one is looking,
Especially if you are in a strange land.
What did you do today to fill up your tank with rejoicing? What are some of the emotions that cause you anxiety, fear, depression, sadness, loss of joy, that you have seen routed through practicing the presence of Christ, and rejoicing?