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“Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). It seems simple enough at first glance, but our human tendency is to do just the opposite. Psychologists have often commented on how humans tend to let negative influences outweigh the positive inputs, memories and experiences in their lives. We might have three wonderful experiences but find ourselves dwelling on that one negative event that seems to overshadow it all. How can we cultivate a joyful mindset in a world full of negativity? What does it look like in our daily lives? When we look at Scripture, we find there are so many things we can rejoice about!

Rejoice in the LORD

First and foremost, we are instructed to rejoice in the Lord. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). The word “always” is key, because our rejoicing in God should not be based on our circumstances. For instance, in Habakkuk 3:17-18, the writer says he will continue to rejoice in the LORD despite hard times, such as famine. What are some practical ways we can rejoice in the Lord? Psalm 97:12 pairs rejoicing with thankfulness: “rejoice in the LORD you righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.” Psalm 33:1-3 adds that praise and singing are important ways to rejoice in the LORD. We can rejoice in our prayers to God, and we can rejoice in Him by how we speak of Him to others.

Rejoice in salvation

We have so much to be thankful for, and the gift of salvation is one that should fill us with praise and rejoicing. Consider these words from the book of Isaiah, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10).

Jesus taught that even one sinner’s repentance is cause for rejoicing in heaven (Luke 15:7, 10). Since bringing new sons and daughters into the family of God brings Him great joy, it should bring us joy too! We can rejoice as the gospel is spread, delighting in the knowledge that more will hear of God’s wonderful plan (Philippians 1:18).

Rejoice in the Holy Days

God’s annual Holy Days (and weekly Sabbath) are times of great rejoicing! For example, referring to the Feast of Weeks, Moses relayed God’s instruction to “rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide” (Deuteronomy 16:11). That is to say—everyone is to rejoice! In another example, the Jews who had been released from captivity in Babylon began to learn about God’s Holy Days, which had been forgotten by them. As Ezra the scribe read from God’s Word, on what turned out to be the Feast of Trumpets, the people wept, knowing that they had forgotten God’s commanded festivals. But instead of being told to make this a day of mourning, they were instructed to rejoice, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep” (Nehemiah 8:9). They were told to “go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (verse 10). God designed these Holy Days as times His people would rejoice!

Rejoice in blessings

There any many daily blessings that we may take for granted, but which are still important to rejoice in. Each day is a gift from God (Psalm 118:24). We often forget to recognize God’s protection in our lives until we find ourselves in trouble and come to Him with a specific request, but it’s important to rejoice in God’s protection. “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You” (Psalm 5:11). We can rejoice in the blessings God has given us, but we can also celebrate the gifts He has given to others. Romans 12:15 reminds us to “rejoice with those who rejoice.”

Rejoice in suffering

While it’s easy to be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives, do we remember to be thankful for the challenges as well? The apostle James wrote to the early Church, reminding them to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2). Although these times of hardship are certainly difficult, trials can help cultivate godly characteristics, such as endurance (Romans 5:3-4). Most importantly, as Christ said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

Rejoice in our hope

This leads us to an upcoming time that can bring us great cause for rejoicing! Jesus told His followers, “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). God says we can rejoice in His coming Kingdom, that He rejoices in it and that it will be a place of rejoicing: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people” (Isaiah 65:17-19). We can rejoice in this hope (Romans 5:2; 12:12).

Scripture reminds us to rejoice always and there are so many things we can praise God for! Let us cultivate a positive mindset as we look forward together to God’s coming Kingdom, the ultimate time of rejoicing!