How We’re Learning

By Kori Yates


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

I am an optimist.

In “spiritual talk,” one of my spiritual gifts is exhortation. I have thought for years that I should acquire some pompoms. Not because I would necessarily look cute in the cheerleader outfit, but because I do love to cheer people on. I love to see what God is doing and am forever anticipating His next big thing. It can be a challenge at times (my husband some days asks me to join him in reality), but, oh my, the blessings it can also bring.

In this crazy military world where I live, this optimism can be hugely beneficial.

Waiting for orders ’til the very last minute and I’m for sure “maybe God will take us somewhere we’ve always wanted to go!”

Walking through a deployment and I think “this is a great chance for us both to grow in our walk with the Lord!”

Wondering what will come next after the military and I imagine “God is going to use us in some really cool ways!”

Through the waiting, walking, and wondering, I am optimistic. Just like everyone else, I have my challenging days, but I am thankful that more often than not I bounce back around in no time. It’s just life in my happily ever after.

Optimism is good. I am thankful for the gift, but I have come to understand that optimism and rejoicing are not the same thing.

Optimistic as defined by is “disposed to take a favorable view of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome. To rejoice on the other hand is “to be glad; take delight (often followed by in).” Did you notice that the first is really used as an adjective but the second is a verb? A verb. It means I am “doing” something.

In Scripture the Lord calls me to rejoice, not simply to be optimistic. What exactly does that look like, though?

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

Paul was pretty adamant in Philippians about rejoicing. Crazy, but Paul actually wrote these words from a prison cell in Rome. This wasn’t an optimistic man who was for sure going to be delivered from his current circumstances. This was a man choosing to rejoice, to be glad, in the Lord. His joy had nothing to do with circumstance or situation, but everything to do with his Savior.

The question then comes: HOW do we rejoice? What does that actually look like in real life where I live? In my pondering and learning, I have come to believe that rejoicing comes from remembering.

How to Rejoice:

  1. Remember who He is: We serve a mighty and powerful God beyond all of our comprehension. A God so vast and big that we cannot even imagine and yet loves us so much to manage the details of our lives, this is who God is. He was that way yesterday. He is that way today. And tomorrow He will be the same.
  2. Remember what He has done: He has done amazing things in all of our lives, but sometimes we simply forget. If we take the time to go back and remember, we will surely rejoice in the awesome things He has already accomplished in, through, and around us.
  3. Remember what He said: God has given us promises of His faithfulness, of His love, of His mercy, of His power, of His plan. He has promised us much, and He never fails to deliver.

Your Turn:

Take time this week to remember. One thing that really helps me remember is to write it down in my journal or go back and read my journal from seasons past. Seeing it written down is a huge thing for me to actually acknowledge who He is and what He has done. Take time this week to notate or write down who He is, what He has done, and what He has said.

Rejoicing is a choice. It is something we can do regardless of circumstance or situation. Choose well today.


Lord, help us to rejoice. Help us to remember who you are, what you have done, and the promises of your word and rejoice in those things regardless of where we stand today. May our rejoicing draw others to you.

Verses to Ponder:

The whole book of Philippians is a great way to encourage us to rejoice. Paul repeats the word rejoice 16 times in this one book – from the prison cell in Rome. The book is worth a read, I promise.

Additional Resources:

  1. Bible Journaling: Bible journaling can come in multiple ways. I take my notebook and simply write down God’s promises and what He has done. Some folks are very artistic and create beautiful pictures that remind them of who God is and what He has done. If you would like to go this route, you can find a ton of videos on YouTube. You can also check out Lifeway’s blog for some ideas:
  2. Remembering jars: I have friends who have created jars in their home to remember. They simply write down the things God has done or reminders of who He is when they pop up in the reading or throughout the day. In challenging times, they can go back and read them to be reminded of Him and to rejoice.