Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Oh, no! St. Paul's not one of those happy-all-the-time sort of person is he? You know, the kind who is always cheerful even when he’s only half awake. The kind who always seem to find find the “silver lining” of every rain cloud and can always be cheerful even when things aren't going well. That's fine for St. Paul, but why does he have to tell US to rejoice always?
St. Paul's words aren't written because he's always a smiling fool. St. Paul was beaten, stoned, whipped, left for dead, shipwrecked, booed, and a whole bunch of other really bad things that hurt him. But he still writes that we are to be joyful always. What's the deal?
For St. Paul, joy comes because he is in Christ. For the Christian, true joy doesn't mean we always feel good or smile or giggle. To rejoice is to confess Jesus—Jesus, who was crucified for our sins and raised from the dead. To rejoice is to confess that we are baptized and therefore sin, death and the devil cannot harm us. To rejoice always is to live by the words of absolution which say that the Devil's got nothing on us to accuse us before God. To rejoice always is to be fed with the body and blood of Jesus and know that because He's in you, you have eternal life.
Rejoicing always is the recognition that because God calls you His child in Jesus Christ, there is nothing in heaven or on earth that can truly harm you. Pain and suffering? They'll be gone one day. Death? It's just a nap 'til the Lord shows up. Sin and the devil? They can't accuse and condemn you. The price for sins has been paid by Jesus. To rejoice always, as St. Paul tell us, is to live in the certainty that Jesus has done all things, conquered all things, takes care of all things, provides all things, and gives you all things.
So rejoice always, Christian! That doesn't mean you always have to feel happy or even smile. But it does mean that Jesus has got you covered. Covered with Himself. And that's true joy no matter what this fading world throws at you. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
For us He rose from death again; For us He went on high to reign; For us He sent the Spirit here To guide, to strengthen and to cheer. (LSB 544:6)