I will say it again: rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
I love this verse. It is one of the very few verses in the bible that gets its own exclamation mark at the end. And although God often repeats the same instruction to his people in his word it is pretty unusual for the same thing to be said twice right next to each other. It must be important.
It must also be quite difficult. Many many years ago, I heard someone older and wiser than me preach on Psalm 42. This song / poem is written by someone in quite extreme pain and distress. In today’s language, we would probably say that they were suffering from depression and anxiety. But, amazingly, 5 verses in, the writer says this, “Why my soul are you so downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.” The older wiser person preaching on the psalm pointed out at this point that the most helpful thing we can do sometimes is talk to ourselves instead of listen to ourselves. When everything inside our heads and hearts, and thoughts and feelings, is signalling panic stations, doom, gloom and disaster, perhaps the most helpful we can do is to shut ourselves up and, instead, deliberately practice an act of gratitude.
Imagine if Facebook was full of people’s individual lists of things they wanted to say thank you for? Imagine if our newsfeeds were overflowing with small expressions of thanks? If we started talking to ourselves, instead of listening to the echo chamber of social media and the news?
Let’s give it a go today. Pick up a pen. Make some swipes on your screen. Tap something different on your phone.
I will say it again: rejoice!
Here’s my starter for 10 after fifteen minutes with a cup of coffee before my children woke up today…
Thank you for… hot coffee. The sound of birdsong. The radiators in my house. My dressing gown. My children sleeping well enough so that I could have a few minutes of peace. The way that so many people are trying so hard to be kind and generous and selfless right now. Being able to dig over my vegetable patch yesterday. Doing puzzles in the living room with my youngest daughter. Eating cake with my Mum on Monday to celebrate her birthday. A kind conversation with a neighbour yesterday morning. Having neighbours that look out for me. The response of the church in wanting to bless and serve the local community. More phone calls than normal this week because it’s hard to see people face to face.