Twenty-eight years ago, I heard a profound statement that has stayed with me to this day. “Thankfulness is a mighty weapon in the hands of God’s people.” As I have been pondering what it means to “rejoice,” it dawned on me: In order for one to rejoice, one must also be thankful. The two go hand in hand. Joy is an overflow of a grateful heart.
James shares in the first chapter of his book, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”*
Satan does not want God’s children to rejoice or to be grateful. He wants to rob us of the joy of being found perfect and complete in Christ. When we choose to rejoice and give thanks to our God for who He is and all that He has so abundantly made available to us, it releases supernatural power in us and through us to live victoriously, lacking in nothing. What an incredible promise!
Of course, to rejoice in the midst of challenging times is impossible in on our own strength, just like any command that God has given us in His word. When I was in college, over thirty years ago, my spiritual mentor shared a powerful demonstration of what it means to live a life of lordship. She took two styrofoam cups, one filled with water and then explained the difference between a life of abiding in Christ and one of striving unto no avail.
The cup filled with water was labeled “Jesus,” and the other labeled “you.” She then poured water from the cup labeled “Jesus” into the cup labeled “you,” all the while explaining how many times Christians ask God to give them more faith, more joy, more strength, and so on.
But in the spiritual realm, God has already given us “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Instead, it is rather like the two become one, Christ in you and you in Christ. My mentor then proceeded to demonstrate this reality by placing each cup inside the other.
Jesus knew it would be impossible for His disciples to live a life of power apart from Him. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just before He was arrested, He encouraged them with these words, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
“Thankfulness is a mighty weapon in the hands of God’s people.” ~anonymous
I do believe that people can experience joy apart from knowing the Lord, but their joy is only temporary because it is rooted in external pleasures, which can only satisfy for a moment. But for those whose joy is rooted in Christ, their joy is eternal. Only Jesus can truly satisfy and give everlasting joy.
He is our firm foundation, and when the storms of life come our way, we can stand firm and rejoice in all circumstances, bearing fruit and bringing glory to Him. Others will recognize that the hope we have is not of this world but rather of an eternal kingdom that cannot be shaken. This is good news! Therefore, let us show gratitude to God and . . .
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
*James 1:2-4 NASB
~ Meet Laura Bachtel ~
Laura Bachtel and her husband Bryan have been married for nearly twenty-eight years. They are the proud parents of five amazing children, from age twenty-four down to sixteen. Laura homeschooled all five of her children during their elementary years and then sent them to Artios Academies in Gwinnett for the remaining years. She now teaches high school English at Artios and loves sharing with her students her passion for writing and great literature. Some of her favorite hobbies include finding new ways to make healthy food taste really yummy, traveling to new places with her family, and enjoying a savory cup of coffee and dark chocolate while reading a good book.
Laura's children are in age order as follows: Sara, 24; Alicia, 22; Maryellen, 20; Caleb, 18; and Josh, 16