“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Two phrases in the verse above seem to make no sense when you read the preceding verses. The phrases: “Rejoice” and “be exceeding glad.” How can a person rejoice or be exceeding glad when you look at all that precedes this verse? God talks about the believer being poor, mourning, meek and not powerful, hungering and thirsting, being merciful, having a pure heart, being a peacemaker, being persecuted and reviled. So, God expects you to rejoice and be exceeding glad when you go through these? The answer to this question is, yes, He does. He expects you to rejoice and be exceeding glad because He knows what these tough times do for you. Let me point out a few things about why you are blessed in tough times.
First, the toughest times of life give you the opportunity to grow. You cannot grow without hard times. If everything were easy in life, you would have no reason to press forward. Hard times build you as a believer and as a person. You will never be able to help others without going through tough times. You are a blessed person when you go through tough times because God is giving you the opportunity to grow.
Second, it is in the toughest times of life that you have the greatest opportunity to be like Christ. Each of these areas where God says you are blessed are attributes of Christ. The tough times of life that you must endure give you the greatest opportunity to show to the world about the great Saviour who lives inside of you. Being like Christ in the tough times is what gives you a rejoicing spirit and an exceeding glad heart. Yes, you are blessed when you go through tough times because it gives you an opportunity to be like Christ.
Third, the tough times of life are a blessing because of what you’re building in Heaven. God says in the verse above, “…for great is your reward in heaven…” My friend, this reward comes from being what you are supposed to be in the tough times. You’re building great rewards in Heaven when you face the tough times as Christ did.
The question then comes, how can I be exceeding glad in these times? Let me point out three things that will help you to be exceeding glad on top of realizing that you are blessed. First, you are in great company when you go through tough times. All of the saints before you went through tough times just like you are, and God used them in a mighty way. You can be exceeding glad because you realize you are not alone in enduring trials.
Second, when it gets tough, always remember that it could be worse. When you look at these verses, you can see that it starts with being “poor in spirit,” but it ends up in “persecution.” When you have it bad, you must always remember that it can be worse than what you have, and somebody else is going through a tougher time than you. You have a reason to be exceeding glad because you could be going through something much worse.
Third, always keep an eternal focus, and you will always have the right disposition towards hard times. My friend, it comes down to what you focus upon. If you focus on the rewards that you are building in Heaven, you will be able to rejoice and be exceeding glad no matter what you face in life.