I Rejoiced Greatly

John A. Keith

The three-word title of this article expresses my emotions when I learned that little Shasta Groene had been found alive. We tremble when our imagination leads us to consider what this child went through and what she might have suffered were it not for the attentiveness of a waitress. At the time of this writing, her brother, Dylan, has not been found, but we continue in prayer on his behalf. Wasn't it nice to finally hear some good news for a change? But wait; don't we hear good news all the time? Whenever we hear the gospel of Jesus Christ preached with sincerity and simplicity, we are hearing Good News!

The news of Shasta's return is certainly worthy of our being elated and happy for her and this grief-stricken family because a life has been saved. How much more, then, should we rejoice when a soul has been saved?

Consider this for a moment. All over the world there are doctors, nurses, EMTs, law enforcement officers, and others whose responsibility it is to save lives. These are very courageous and dedicated folks who sacrifice a lot for the welfare of the public. I have very high regard for these public servants. However, with all their life-saving skills, their results have only a temporary effect. The life they save today will someday end. The body will be laid to rest. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:7) When a soul is saved, it has an eternal effect.

Why do you suppose it is that we don't see more of the happy, elated rejoicing after a baptism or a restoration than we do? When we see news broadcasts of people who were feared dead, and, then, found alive, there are always crying and hugging, and people with broad smiles. Many times, when one obeys the gospel, we simply sit there with the same "Hurry up, already" look on our faces. Again I ask, "Why?" A person has just been forgiven of past sins (Acts 2:38). A soul has been added to the church (Acts 2:47). That person's life may end tomorrow; but, now, instead of going to hell, he or she is going to Heaven.

I've seen people who genuinely rejoice at a baptism, and it is a wonderful experience to participate in the rejoicing. I witnessed the restoration of a troubled young woman, and there was scarcely a dry eye in the building. Dearly beloved, we are allowed to rejoice in the Lord! Paul wrote, in Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22)

We would do well to imitate John's attitude in 2 John 4. "I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father." Again, in 3 John 4: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."

Let us put aside our earthly cares in moments when one has decided to obey the Lord in baptism that we might meditate on holier things and rejoice with them that do rejoice (Romans 12:15). When we hear of faithful brethren who are ministering to the needs of those round about them, spreading the Good News, doing benevolent work, and who are worshipping according to the New Testament pattern, let's join together and say with John, "I rejoiced greatly." -70 Gale Ave., Newport, OH 45768. keithj@localnet.com

(Editor's note: John preaches for the Mt. Nebo congregation in Pleasants County, WV. He preached in our fall Gospel meeting. He is an able man. We commend him to our readers and encourage the brotherhood to use him in the work. Shasta's brother was later found dead. Our hearts were saddened by the news. However, we do take comfort and rejoice in knowing that little children are taken to paradise upon their deaths. See "Take Comfort In Knowing" written by Jason Taylor in the November issue, Vol. 12, No. 11, p. 4)


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