Rejoice! Winter is Over; Spring is Here

Rejoice! Winter is Over; Spring is Here

 

Get up, my dear friend, fair and beautiful lover—come to me! Look around you: Winter is over; the winter rains are over, gone! Spring flowers are in blossom all over. The whole world’s a choir—and singing! Spring warblers are filling the forest with sweet arpeggios. Lilacs are exuberantly purple and perfumed, and cherry trees fragrant with blossoms. Oh, get up, dear friend, my fair and beautiful lover—come to me! Come, my shy and modest dove—leave your seclusion, come out in the open. Let me see your face, let me hear your voice. For your voice is soothing and your face is ravishing.

– Song of Solomon 2:12-14

Has the bite of your winter season affected your level of joy and exuberance? If the answer is yes, then I must remind you today that the season has changed!  And in the same way that we put away our winter clothing and take out our spring garments, it’s time for you, my friend, to put away the things of your former season. Yes, in case you haven’t noticed, springtime is here! The new season is not just coming. It is here. It’s here! The flowers are blooming and their fragrance is filling the air. The sun is shining. The birds are singing their songs. In just the last few days, I am seeing butterflies, beautiful butterflies! I love the spring. I love the longer days of day light. I love the new energy that I feel in this season. It’s a season to celebrate. In fact, our city will be celebrating spring with its annual Spring Fling festival that will fill the downtown streets all weekend long!

This week, our women’s Praise and Coffee group kicked off our spring meetings with a paint party. This was the masterpiece that we all painted.

Yes, the sound of the birds actively singing is a reminder that winter is over and springtime has come. Our paintings will serve to remind us to rejoice, and to rejoice not only in the springtime but in the winter seasons alike, for the great apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:4 that we are to rejoice always. And he reminds us not just once, but twice.

Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice.” 

We are to rejoice in good, bright, and fruitful times, and in the darker, dry, difficult times alike. We are to rejoice in the midst of struggles, challenges, and even trials. 1 Peter 4:12-13  (AMP) actually gives us a heads up about those unavoidable trials.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test you [that is, to test the quality of your faith], as though something strange or unusual were happening to you. But insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, keep on rejoicing, so that when His glory [filled with His radiance and splendor] is revealed, you may rejoice with great joy.

1 Thessalonians 5:16 tells us to “rejoice and be glad hearted continually.” Continually. The Message Bible uses the words, “rejoice and be glad hearted no matter what.”  How hard is that to do?

In these scriptures, we find the word chairō (rejoice) which translates to be full of cheer, to be full of joy, to be glad, and to be calmly happy. Can you be calmly happy even in the midst of trials?  I hope that you can. Listen to the words of the psalmist’s prayer as he struggled in this very area:

Psalm 36:1-4 Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and distressed, needy and desiring. Preserve my life, for I am godly and dedicated; O my God, save Your servant, for I trust in You [leaning and believing on You, committing all and confidently looking to You, without fear or doubt]. Be merciful and gracious to me, O Lord, for to You do I cry all the day. Make me, Your servant, to rejoice,  O Lord, for to You do I lift up my soul.

His prayer was that God would make him to rejoice. The word rejoice here is a different word for rejoice. It is the word śâmach, which translates to brighten up, cheer up, make glad or to make joyful.

“Make me, Your servant, to rejoice. O Lord, for to you do I lift up my soul.” Virtually, he was lifting up his soul; his mind, his will, and his emotions, to the Lord. He was asking the Lord to brighten up his thoughts, to cheer up his emotions, and to make glad his heart. Sometimes we need to ask the Lord to do that very thing for us. The truth is, however, that we have a lot to rejoice about.

Deuteronomy 12:7 says, “Rejoice in all your undertakings (in all that you put your hand to) the Lord your God has blessed you.”

No matter if the things you are giving yourself to and pouring yourself into actually look like they are going well, or not going well, brighten up! Be glad! Make a decision to rejoice no matter what, for truly God has blessed you. We are a blessed people. Make no mistake about that!

Look at Habakkuk 3:17-19:

Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive fails and the fields produce no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls, 18 Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord; I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation1The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army]; He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet and makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my high places [of challenge and responsibility].

There are two words used in verse 18; I will rejoice in the Lord; and I will joy in the God of my salvation (KJV).  The first word rejoice is the original Hebrew word ‛âlaz and it translates to be joyful, and even jump for joy. It also means to exult and triumph. The second word joy (gı̂yl gûl ) translates to spin around under the influence of intense emotion, to be glad and to be joyful.  Imagine that; jumping and spinning in a time of rejoicing right in the midst of things seemingly not going well, in the midst of things not turning out the way you had hoped or imagined, in the midst of God Himself not answering your specific prayer the way that you wanted Him to. Jumping for joy. What’s that all about? How is that even possible?

The secret to being able to rejoice always, continually, and no matter what is found in verse 18:  “Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord; I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation!

I will choose! It’s a decision. It’s a choice. We have to make up our minds that we WILL rejoice no matter what. And our rejoicing is not in the ever changing circumstances in our lives, but in the unchanging, victorious God of our salvation who causes us to also walk in victory.

Sure, we can cry out like David and say, “Lord, make me, your servant to rejoice,” He will hear that prayer and answer us, but the scriptures seem to indicate that when it comes to this rejoicing, the responsibility is far greater on our own part.

I like the way the Amplified Bible (Classic Edition) puts Phil 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!”

Delight yourselves in the Lord. Gladden yourselves in Him. If we want to rejoice always as the scripture puts it, we have got to gladden ourselves and gladden ourselves in Him. Take pleasure in Him, in His word, in His presence, in His goodness, in His provisions, in His grace, in His lovingkindness, in who He is.

I believe that the Lord is wanting to say to some of us today, “Get up! Lift your head and lift your voice. Join in with all creation as it sings and rejoices in its Maker. Let me hear your voice. Come to Me. I love you. I love you. I love you! Cheer up. It’s time to exchange your sadness for gladness. Go ahead and celebrate for you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions. Take heart! Gain strength! And rejoice.”

May the Lord anoint you with the oil of gladness today. In Jesus’ name.

 

Jennifer Rash

 

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