Message from Jo Forrest -- January 2022

At the turn of the year, you may resolve to make changes in your life, either to leave behind some bad habits or discipline yourself to those you think may help you thrive.

Regardless of what you decide to do, set your intention for how you will respond to events.

The year ahead will present some joyous events – graduations, births, weddings, new loves, or new jobs. In light of these, the Apostle Paul would advocate: “Rejoice in the Lord, always.” As much as we may work toward the goal, we owe our gratitude and glory to God.

Some of us also know the year ahead will hold losses and disappointments – whether we see the ominous signs already or just trust our gut. Bonds will be broken between two people. A job ends. Someone dies. Natural disaster strikes in our backyard and not someone else’s. The Apostle Paul would also advocate: “Rejoice in the Lord.”

Paul wrote his letter to the church in Philippi while he was imprisoned for preaching the gospel. Those recipients of his letter were also under siege for living out their faith in Jesus. Despite their mutual hardship Paul called them to rejoice in the Lord.

The preposition “in” is key. Paul’s letter reminds us, we always live “in” God’s care. In. At the times of joy, rejoice in God’s blessing.

Amidst heartache or loss, we are humbled by what little we can control or how deeply we can grieve. But, no matter how hard it becomes, we are always “in” God’s realm.

Real and lasting joy comes from the confidence that, no matter what happens, we are connected to one another and inseparably connected to God through Jesus Christ. We are not always free to determine what happens to us, but we are free to choose how we will respond to whatever happens. We are commanded to rejoice in the Lord, not in the circumstances of our lives.

“Rejoice in the Lord.” It is not that we are to rejoice only in good times or in spite of our circumstances. It is not even that we are to rejoice through gritted teeth, but rather, rejoice in that we are always found in God and God can always lift us from darkness.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Let your gentleness be known to everyone.
The Lord is near.
Do not worry 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

Blessings to you in the New Year,

Jo Forrest