REJOICE, I Say, REJOICE.
"I know that there is nothing better for men than to rejoice & do good things while they live." - Ecclesiastes 3:12
When read carefully, it doesn't take a theologian to understand this verse. If we take it at face value, the wisdom from King Solomon is clear. It is the spirit of this verse which inspired my wife and me to develop the Rejoice & Do Good brand.
There is a distinction being made (I encourage you to read the other verses before and after this one). We all know deep down that we are eternal beings. The soul can never be destroyed and lives on for all of eternity. And yet, we are here on this earth for 80 years give or take. What do we make of this contrast? How does one cope with this duality? An earthbound being destined for eternity.
In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis explains:
"...If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”
This brings me to the first half of the heart of our brand. Rejoice. Solomon begins his statement with "...I know there is nothing better for men than to rejoice..." When the wisest man on earth says "I know," we should be obliged to listen.
The dictionary defines rejoice as follows:
"feel or show great joy or delight."
If you're like me, then it seems strange to picture yourself rejoicing full time. Frankly, I don't think it's even possible. However, I can say that there are may opportunities that I've passed up glumly trudging about my daily life. I've found that whenever God gives us a bit of advice, a command, or a rule to follow, it is not to burden us with arbitrary confines to increase our suffering. No, God gives us these directives because they are good. They're good for us and for society.
It seems to me there is a subtle art to rejoicing in the life we are given, for all the blessings in it, (material and otherwise), and understanding what matters more than anything is eternity.
Honestly, it's hard to keep an eternal perspective. It's hard to rejoice. It's even harder to fake rejoice (we've all seen it and done it God bless us). I don't think it's necessary to fake it.
As always, we look to Jesus for our example and our source of power.
He went through life and experienced it as a man. As a human being with all the same confusing chemistry we have.
He wept. John 11:35.
He was in Agony. Luke 22:44
He had compassion. Matt 9:36.
And he rejoiced! Luke 10:21.
I use these examples to show; we won't always have a reason to rejoice. Sometimes, life will be exceedingly difficult. We will suffer. We will have loss. We will fail. We'll weep, be in agony, and will have troubles.
We do, however, have reasons to rejoice! And rejoice we should!
I'm certainly no expert, but I've found these simple reminders and simple outlook to be very helpful:
- Most importantly, Jesus is your Lord and Savior! Remember, he took away your sins no questions asked.
- Start small: you're alive and reading this, right? Rejoice! You've been given the gift of life! It ain't easy, but it's worth it!
- Start counting your blessings. This is fun, try and see how many you can come up with.
Life can be so hard. Jesus understands that. He was persecuted and crucified. He died a gruesome and horrible death. He was tortured and humiliated.
All you need is that sliver of hope. Let that grow into gratitude. And let that gratitude become the fuel you need to rejoice!