When I can’t sleep at night, I know that I am super stressed or overwhelmed and that it is time to make a change. Last night was one of those nights. But around 3:00 in the morning, in the midst of tossing and turning, I heard a voice speak to my spirit, saying, “Rejoice.” As I continued to drift in and out of sleep, I would repeat to myself as a half-asleep breathe prayer, “rejoice” and “peace.”
I know the voice I heard was God’s, and I have been reflecting all morning on what God is trying to tell me. Why rejoice?
Over the past few weeks, I have been trying to tap into God’s strength. In no other point of my life have I experienced what it truly means to be weak and to depend on God for total strength. But I’m still struggling to figure out how to be strong in God. I know prayer and scripture reading serve as the foundation of our relationship with God; but to be perfectly honest, I don’t exactly experience a bolt of strength when I spend time with God. Perhaps God’s working is more internal, strengthening me in ways yet unknown.
A couple of weeks ago, I ran across this scripture verse: “The joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10, NRSV). I remember thinking, Hum. That’s interesting. How does that really work? After last night’s experience, I have decided to spend the next few days rejoicing in God’s goodness and not focusing on my endless to-do list. I am reminded of one of my favorite scripture passages (and Henry Purcell Anthems): “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 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, NRSV). Perhaps the “peace” part of my half-asleep breathe prayer came from my subconscious memory of this scripture passage.
I’m going to give this “rejoice” thing a try, and I believe by delighting in God I will find the strength for which I’m looking. Won’t you join me?