by - August 29, 2022

 "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again--rejoice!"

It's a children's song. I wonder if you hear it now, as you read these words I have typed. It's a verse. Philippians 4:4. It's a reminder of how bright our future is in the Lord. It's a reminder of who we are. That we are to rejoice. That joy comes in the morning. That we need fear nothing if we rejoice in the Lord.

Funny, really. Funny how we hear it and we think of the blithe little children's song. It's not about joy to us--it's about happiness. And it's impossible to be happy most of the time in this life. Happiness is fickle, fleeting, and overall an emotion. Joy is a state of being. It's a truth.

I remember the beginning of my high school years, when I got ahold of Andrew Peterson's album The Burning Edge of Dawn. Everything was awful in my life at that point, and the track entitled "Rejoice" was not the one I thought I needed. I love Andrew Peterson, but he and I have a bit of a fraught relationship. It's one thing to have emotions about God and struggle with them; it's another to have your emotions taken, written down by another individual who's never met you, and put to song. Peterson has an uncanny ability to weave words out of the deepest thoughts of my soul, so sometimes when it's darkest, I can't bear listening to the songs he writes.

Rejoice was just another of those--it hurt so badly that I could hardly bear it. I could not stand to feel the weight of words that gave voice to my feelings. "Rejoice" was a song that made me think maybe it got better. But later. 

Joy, I thought then, as a young teen wrestling with body image, a broken life, and grappling with the reality of losing a life I'd not only never get back but also never have in the first place--joy was not for someone like me. Maybe someday I'd find it. Someday way far away.

It persisted. I felt happiness on and off. I felt the deepest pain and the worst loneliness. God is there, they say, through it all. Funny how that's true when you can't feel it or see his presence. Funny how you can believe something with all your heart and yet so fully doubt its truth.

There's a truth you can't let go of and there's a truth you have to hold onto. Joy is one of these, a thin little gossamer thread that you can't let go of if you wish to keep your life. It's the rope holding Samwise and Frodo against the cliff. It's the thread holding your heart together. But it only comes from truth, the truth that God alone can give.

I went to a concert in spring of 2022 (just this year). It was Andrew Peterson, live and in person. I'd just turned 20. I was ready for some sort of epiphany. I needed a change. I was happy, yes, but joy?

What is joy?

Peterson announced his arrival with a few classics, and then he set into playing the opening bars of "Rejoice."

For some reason, God has a way of using Andrew Peterson specifically to speak to me. There is always one song in his setlists that has a message for me, one that I didn't know I needed in that moment, but that moves me straight to tears. Once at his Christmas concert, which we livestreamed, he played another favorite song, "Carry the Fire," which moved me to tears. It was exactly what I needed.

But "Rejoice." One note and I was right back in that darkness, the water all around me, my heart shattered on the floor. Tears were already on my face right there in that church. I started singing along, but by the end of the first verse, I was in tears to a point where I could hardly breathe, let alone sing. The song itself was beautiful, yes, but that was not what struck me. What struck me was the truth.

Joy comes in truth. In knowing the truth.

I knew the truth.

God was there. God had never let me go in all those moments.

That's the story of the girl sobbing during a song about joy, a girl whose life came full circle. It's all about those moments, I've come to realize. One moment where God makes it all so clear--that's what lets me keep going. He does it so rarely, but I do not forget the moments when he does it. He reminds me of his truth and his presence and he holds on tight. It is my memorial. My reminder that the Lord does not leave us alone or leave us with just ourselves.

He is right there in the dark. And I did not drown then. I will not drown now. For I am not swimming by myself.

Somewhere in the dark is a lifeline, a thread floating on the water, inviting me to reach out and take it. The thread is a single word, glimmering like a light in the darkness.

Rejoice, beloved.

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  1. This was a beautiful post!!! <3 I'd actually never heard that song by Andrew Peterson, but I went and listened to it just now. Such a great reminder <3


  2. Oh, Faith, thank you so much for sharing your heart. This nearly brought me to tears. You are so right. We will not drown. We are not alone. We CAN rejoice even in the darkest of times. Thank you for this beautiful reminder. *all the hugs*

  3. Thanks for sharing this! I love when God uses things like songs or people to tell us things. The way you describe joy is beautiful. <3


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