The moments when we gather with family and friends to celebrate something are special: birthdays, weddings, babies, special occasions. They bring smiles, laughs, and happy memories together. We’re often left with sentiments of, “Things couldn’t be any better than this.”

Yet, these moments are also fleeting. Feelings are fickle. Life gets busy. Work takes over. The kids’ schedule gets overbooked with sports. The weeks become a blur of activity, where we find ourselves going through the motions to check off each box until we make it to the end of the week.

Rather than rejoicing, we end up succumbing to the sentiments of our surroundings:

Another tragedy strikes a small town.

Something doesn’t work out at our job.

A friend has a miscarriage.

The children won’t stop arguing while our spouse has to leave for yet another work trip.

A family member is relentless in causing harm and destruction to the family.

Conversations are overheard, full of gossip and negative self-talk.

Really, anything on the news channels.


The list can go on for miles… Don’t we all know it?  The challenges of ordinary life often seem to remove celebration from our weeks.

Not to downplay or dismiss the hard moments, but what if we turned the criticism and complaining into celebration? What if we noticed the potential to still celebrate that which we can’t yet see, even in the midst of each trial and challenge?

It’s hard to do. And it’s unfamiliar because it isn’t what our society preaches or teaches. Yet, you can look at it one of two ways: you can be the light in the darkness, or you can let the darkness continue to override the light.

Guess what? Light shines brightest in the darkness. You can still celebrate consistently, even in challenging times. You can be the light in the darkness, even if you’re walking through the darkest season yourself. You can make a decision that’s different and spark change in the environment around you, even in times when others would count you down and out. When it’s hardest to celebrate is often when we need to practice celebration the most.

This doesn’t mean that our response will never be to lament—to call attention to the wrong things in the world and to ask for God’s intervention— we don’t have to pretend like the things we’ve experienced haven’t been painful or difficult. But what if, even in times of lament and sorrow, we still spent time finding one thing each day to celebrate? Consistent celebration means that, sometimes, these celebrations might feel like meager offerings. Yet, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 still encourages us to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Paul didn’t give these directions to the Thessalonian church believing that they would be easy to follow. He himself was battling a challenging season and had fled the city because it was under such severe persecution that Paul was unable to come back. While he celebrated the continued faithfulness of the church, the letter as a whole addresses the heaviness of suffering, persecution, and death. And yet, they (and we) were still called to rejoice and celebrate the hope we have in Christ.

Having this mindset takes our focus off worldly factors and onto the character of God. It shifts us from our current circumstances, which could be the last thing we’d want to try to celebrate, to the memories of times the Lord has been faithful to us in the past. It reminds us that the will of God is for us to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. Celebration doesn’t have to be exuberant gatherings or over-the-top feasts. What if we practiced small habits that would turn our posture from complaining to celebration? We could radiate joy within and to those around us.

How could we incorporate that?

  • Write down one thing per day you’re grateful for.
  • Say a prayer when something doesn’t turn out your way.  Reflect and remember the Lord works all things together for good. Yes, even when we can’t see it!
  • When someone gets something you were hoping for, celebrate with them, rather than reacting out of jealousy or envy.
  • When you hear someone speaking negatively about themselves or a situation, help them reframe their thinking by asking a good question or letting them know how much you care about them. If you yourself seem only to find the negative in your everyday situations, try fasting from negativity. Try to go one hour without saying or thinking anything negative. And when a negative idea inevitably sneaks its way into your brain, simply notice it, lift it up to God, and don’t beat yourself up. Build from there until you’re up to a day, then a week.
  • When the kids or your roommates won’t stop arguing, take some time to do a fun, intentional activity and regroup together.
  • When someone hurts you, react with blessing rather than cursing.

Hey, I didn’t say it would be easy!

How might the world around us change if we incorporated little changes like these into our days? Are you up for the challenge to practice celebrating consistently for a week?

Let’s be different. Let’s choose to celebrate, even when it doesn’t make sense. Let’s shake the world with joy!