As I began to drift back to sleep, lulled by the sound of rolling thunder and rain hitting the house, my ears suddenly perked. Still in a very peaceful state, but more alert, I noticed another beautiful sound, the songs of the birds. I have never noticed before, always caught up in the crashes of thunder and pelts of rain, with flashes of lighting illuminating the sky, but birds sing even in a storm.
I’ve heard it all–the sermons preached, books written, songs (old and new) sung about praising God in the storm, but here I was actually listening to it happen. The birds, they do the very thing God desires us to do, to praise Him not just when the sun shines (life is good), but when the thunder rolls (life storms rage). Scripture is peppered with verses that tell us that praise and thanksgiving aren’t just for the good times, but that we should have joy in our trials too.
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Philippians 4:4 NLT
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. Romans 5:3 NLT
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. James 1:2 NLT
Not only is the Bible full of instructional verses about rejoicing in all circumstances, it is also filled with the accounts of real people who have done just that.
Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers (human trafficking), thrown under the bus by Potiphar’s (his master with whom he’d previously had a good relationship) wife with accusations of things he did not do, and thrown into prison. Still, his faith and joy remained in the Lord.
Job’s livelihood was taken, every member of his family lost, his body raged with disease, and his friends accused him of sinning. Still, his faith and joy remained in the Lord.
David faced a giant, was hunted down by a madman, dealt with the gravity of sin, and was turned on by his own son. Still, his faith and joy remained in the Lord.
Mary experienced an unplanned pregnancy, the possibility of undeserved punishment, strained relationships, a less than comfortable birth, exile, and watching her son die the most painful and shameful of deaths. Still, her faith and joy remained in the Lord.
Paul endured flogging, stoning, shipwreck, prison, the face of death, and repeated danger. Still, his faith and joy remained in the Lord.
How? How did these people who endured so much, whose lives are marked by the storms that raged, go forth with joy? I believe the answer lies in KNOWING God. These people, these Biblical giants, they didn’t just know about God, they KNEW HIM.
We live in a time where information is at our fingertips like never before. A few clicks of a mouse or taps of of our thumbs will give us all we want to know about anybody. Knowing about somebody doesn’t reveal the key to trusting them though, their character. You can know their favorite color, their shoe size, their natural hair color, what kind of car they drive, etc but that doesn’t give you enough to place your trust with them. To do that, you need to spend time with them, you need to see them in a variety of circumstances. Are they loyal or do they betray? Are they selfless or selfish? Are they uplifting or joy stealing? Are they trustworthy or dishonest? The same is true with God. We can know all about Him. We can learn the facts. Until we really get to know Him though, enter into a relationship with Him where spend time with Him, where we walk with Him through a variety of circumstances, we just have head knowledge, and it is hard to look to a bunch of facts as the source of our joy. When we really get to know God, His character is revealed, His steadfastness becomes sure, and we can trust Him. Now as we weather the storms, we weather them knowing that God is…
…and this gives us the reason and ability to rejoice!
The sun is out now and the birds continue to sing, offering praise to The Creator. Another storm will come though, and when it does, I plan to listen for the songs amidst the wind, rain, and thunder to be reminded of how my own song should sound, not breaking for the storm but continuing right through, evidence of my trust in in the Lord. Perhaps someday a list of the storms of my life will be made and somebody will say, “Still, her faith and joy remained in the Lord.”