Faith column: Rejoice always, even in Minnesota

The sun makes all the difference here in the great white North. Life just looks better through sunglasses.

Rev. Chad Werkhoven
Chad Werkhoven

WORTHINGTON — The things I noticed walking the dog the other day wouldn’t be considered extraordinary anywhere else: the dog’s tongue hanging out as she trotted ahead of me, the neighbor we passed walking out to get the mail in a pair of shorts, the need to pull my hat off as I began to sweat.

None of this even gets noticed in more inhabitable places, much less mentioned in a newspaper column.

But I wasn’t in a more inhabitable place; I was in Minnesota. I looked at my phone, expecting it to register a balmy 85 degrees, but it only said 20. No, not Celsius. Fahrenheit. The 4-foot snow drifts standing sentry on either side of the road silently testified to the thermometer’s accuracy.

So why the panting dog, shorts clad neighbor and sweating scalp? Simple. The sun was shining.

The sun makes all the difference here in the great white North. Life just looks better through sunglasses.


But as we’ve been painfully reminded this winter, the sun doesn’t shine every day. It makes no sense to put on shades in the midst of a dark and stormy night, as if doing so would somehow force the sunshine to return.

The Bible seems to employ such wishful thinking when it instructs us to ‘rejoice always’ four different times.

Such a command makes sense when the sun is shining in life and everything’s awesome. But how does this work when we live in a place in which the dark and stormy nights of winter seem to considerably outlast the balmy days of summer?

The imperative ‘Rejoice Always’ seems like one of those trite sayings that looks really good on a greeting card, but lacks lasting adhesiveness when applied to life.

But the Bible’s command(s) to rejoice apply very nicely in both sunshine and gloom when you understand what it really means.

The problem is most people limit the concept of rejoicing to the euphoric emotion a person experiences when their team wins a world championship. It ought to be easier for us Minnesotans to get past this misunderstanding since it’s been decades or longer since we’ve associated a major league team with feelings of euphoria. Maybe if you have friends in Kansas City they can explain it to you.

Certainly rejoicing includes life’s celebrations, but it’s so much more than that.

The Biblical idea of rejoicing is the simple realization that reality rests securely in the hands of our sovereign, omnipotent Father who has promised to work out all things for the good. God’s grip remains just as strong when things appear to be going well (often the case in the regular season) as it does when things are going poorly, like it often does for the Vikes and Twins in the playoffs. Either way, the Christian can rejoice knowing God remains in control.


The best way to rejoice is to inoculate yourself to the sensationalized dramas perpetuated by the never-ending news cycles and social media feeds, and instead keep your mind focused on your citizenship in the Kingdom of God.

This isn’t easy. The world seeks to conform you to its pattern of rejoicing only when things go exceptionally well, but this inevitably leads to despair during life’s long winters, which often outlast even the most stubbornly persistent Minnesota cold season.

If you’re going to rejoice the way God intends you to rejoice — always — then you best not pin your hopes around a winning team, successful growing season, winning political party or any other transient hopes.

To rejoice always, you must always be exposing yourself to God’s Word. Choose one of Worthington’s awesome churches and plant yourself in the pew every Lord’s Day. Make daily Bible reading a priority (the Bible reading plan put together by local pastors can help).

I don’t know if spring has sprung or if winter is still saying a Minnesota goodbye when you read this (we decided to go and do some rejoicing in a warmer climate and submitted this article before leaving), but I do know that no matter what, you can rejoice always. In fact, I’ll say it again: Rejoice!

Chad Werkhoven is pastor of Worthington Christian Reformed Church.

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