Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7, emphasis added
Some days it is just hard to rejoice. The dryer breaks, the children fight, the rain pours, and the supper burns … and all we want to do is curl up and try again tomorrow. Had days like that? Days when even counting gifts is difficult are the very days we can lean in to these verses the most. Paul gives us the antidote for the less-than-joyful days. Prayer. Laying down the burdens and worries of this world and exchanging them for the peace and promise of things eternal. Instead of making the lists of things to do and even things for which we are grateful, we are invited to draw close to the Lover of our Souls … to list the cares and bothers and anxieties that leave us weary. And then just one word – Thanks. In the drawing near, especially in the moments of great trial, we find the most beautiful present … Him. His very Presence washes over us with unimaginable, inexplicable, massive peace. And then, we are able, truly able, to rejoice.
We want to be joyful … to rejoice always in the gift of grace, of salvation. We really do, Lord. But sometimes, we’re tired, weary, worn. All we can see are the worries and cares of this world and they feel overwhelming and even scary. Will you teach us to draw near to You in those moments? Cause us to grasp the sweet truth that You *want* to bear our burdens, want to know our sorrows, want to hold our tears. When the days are long and the nights are black and joy seems farthest away, Precious Lord, will You gently guide us into Your embrace? Give us the strength to lay our worries at Your feet and to rest in the peace of Your presence. Teach us, Lord, that joy often comes in the morning after a long night of pain … but it is the sweetest joy to know You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
One of the best books I’ve read this year is The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan. It was the foundation of the SLOW series I wrote this summer. Challenging, inspiring, and filled with biblical truth and practical application, I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to stretch themselves in the areas of prayer, praise, gratitude, and true rest.