Thanks to GOD, I was kind of...brave today. :)
Like many churches, my church has a Sunday School. Well, technically, the highschool Sunday School is called Bible Class...anyways. Ever since I went through the emotional/spiritual crap (I've got to get used to the fact that "crap" will probably show up often in my vocabulary), I've avoided Sunday School, Youth Group, small-group Bible studies...basically, anything in which I might have to talk about my relationship with God.
Our Sunday School takes a few weeks off during the summer, and it started up for the school year today. I wasn't going to go to Sunday School, since I never have gone at this church. But a lot of people were encouraging me to go, since they know that my reasons for not going are insecurity-based.
"Fine," I told my friend. "I'll go to Sunday School today. But if they call on me to answer a question, I'm going to die!" I then proceeded to complain constantly until we sat down for the lesson. :P
The lesson was centered around Philippians 4:4, the verse about rejoicing in the LORD always. Appalled, I watched as the teacher tried to get people to participate in the lesson...but none of the students were talking!
So finally, I knew God wanted me to say something.
"When you know God - when you truly know Him - He makes you rejoice. Even if you're going through something ridiculously painful, He gives you joy. He makes you rejoice, because of Who He Is."
I kid you not - I almost didn't recognize my own voice. Crippled by nerves that told me I was only going to mess up, and overcome by passion and belief for what I was saying, my voice came out like a shaky mess. No, shaky mess is a HUGE understatement - my voice basically sounded like it was falling apart! My dear friend reached over and held my hand as I fought tears. Not tears of nervousness...tears of complete and utter joy.
In that moment, I had won a battle. Small and seemingly insignificant, perhaps, but still a victory, all the same. For the first time in years, I had willingly opened my mouth to proclaim God's Truth in a public place. And though the words I spoke weren't exactly original or profound, they must've been something, because the teacher beamed at me and exclaimed, "That's the kind of class participation I'm looking for." He thanked me twice. I wonder if he was able to tell that I really, really believed what I was saying.
Ever since that moment, I have been filled with an inexplicable joy...an indescribable peace...an incredible Love for my Savior.
Warrior, Philippians 4:4 is true. It is so, so true. It tells us to always rejoice in God...because God knows that it is possible to rejoice, even when our hearts are screaming otherwise. And the rejoicing thing...it is not something we can truly know, unless we know the Source of Joy. Even throughout the hard times - the impossible times - God will fill us with rejoicing - not because our circumstances are joy-inducing, but because He is always joy-inducing. Because of Who He Is, He is the reason to rejoice, even if our hearts are filled with sorrow.
Dear Warrior, rejoice in the LORD always...and again, I say, REJOICE!