IT’S EASY to get stuck in a rut isn’t it?
We fall into the same patterns of behaviour, the same routines.
We can let the same worries, the same grudges; the same sense of despair, take over.
Like me you might have looked forward to the start of the new year, as a chance to put the troubles and worries of the last behind you.
We start the year fresh, thinking that things will be different.
We make resolutions to improve, to grow, to change.
But already, only three weeks into the new year, how often do we find ourselves breaking those resolutions, falling back into the same patterns?
While we’re on holidays we can unwind and relax, putting thoughts of our ‘regular’ life aside.
But after a few days of being back at work it feels like we’ve never been away.
Or now, at the halfway point of the holidays, we might be thinking it would be good if school started a week earlier.
It’s hard to maintain our enthusiasm, our joy, when we’re faced with all the challenges and pressures of everyday life.
In his letter to the Philippians the apostle Paul writes, more than once, that we should not worry, that we should be at peace and that we should “Rejoice always, and again I say rejoice!” (You can find that in Philippians 4:4)
There are times we might think this sounds hollow, like a Hallmark card.
Given the drudgery of life, the weariness we feel, the weight of the world, how can we stand firm, let alone have joy?
We might not always find joy possible.
Life is sometimes hard, sometimes difficult and yes, sometimes dreary.
How can we be joyful?
The key is in the few words I left out of the quote above.
Paul doesn’t say that we should simply rejoice; that we should put a happy face on and pretend like everything is awesome all the time.
No, Paul writes that we can rejoice always, “in the Lord.”
The more we focus on Jesus, the more we’ll find ourselves filled with joy.
For we can rejoice in the Lord because in him we know God’s love and mercy.
In Christ God forgives all our wrongdoings. Because of Jesus God declares that we are his children and heirs of heaven. Through Jesus we are given the gift of God’s presence in his Spirit.
Therefore we can always rejoice not in or because of our circumstances, but above them.
Even in the most difficult and trying of times we can find that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10).
And so whether your year has started with a bang or a bust, whether you’re firing on all cylinders or wondering how you’ll make it through the summer, whatever your circumstances, you can always turn to God and remember his love for you in Jesus.
In doing so we can lift up our hearts and be lifted up, for in him we find joy and in him we can rejoice always.
Christ Church Anglican