2022 Word of the Year
Here we are again, almost inexplicably, at the beginning of another year. It’s the expected and routine, yet a miracle in itself. Our long-established 12-month calendar begins anew, resets at the turn of every year in these anni Domini. Because it truly is a gift from our Lord Himself that we are given each day anew to begin again, each orderly 7-day week that resets with a Sabbath. These passing hours seem to take on, even more so lately, a tone of “the last days”, and so we carry on in the mundane with hopeful anticipation.
As in years past, I’m selecting a ‘Word of the Year’ to help guide my devotions, prayers and daily activities. Each year, as Advent comes to a close, I begin contemplating a word that might fit by hopes and goals for the coming month. Strangely enough, the word always seems to identify itself without much effort on my part — as though it’s already been selected for me. Some years, I have resisted the word, knowing what it would take to truly embrace what it meant. This year is no different, but a challenge I am willing to accept as from the Lord.
The word rejoice is prevalent throughout the Bible, appearing 203 times (150 times in the Old Testament, 93 in the New Testament). Clearly, being in right relationship with God is more than enough reason for rejoicing. But, rejoicing is not just ‘being happy’. It being connected to a source of joy and gladness that is not dependant upon one’s physical, mental or emotional status. It is a state of spiritual dependance, utter trust in God’s provision regardless of circumstances.
A little word search returns the following roots of the word REJOICE:
c. 1300, rejoisen, “to own (goods, property), possess, enjoy the possession of, have the fruition of,” from Old French rejoiss-, present participle stem of rejoir, resjoir “gladden, rejoice,” from re-, which here is of obscure signification, perhaps an intensive (see re-), + joir “be glad,” from Latin gaudere “rejoice” (see joy).
From mid-14c. in a transitive sense of “make joyful, gladden.” Intransitive meaning “be full of joy” is recorded from late 14c. Middle English also used simple verb joy “to feel gladness; experience joy in a high degree” (mid-13c.) and rejoy (early 14c.). Also in 15c.-16c. “to have (someone) as husband or wife, to have for oneself and enjoy.” To rejoice in “be glad about, delight in” is from late 14c. Related: Rejoiced; rejoicing.https://www.etymonline.com/word/rejoice
It is striking to me that the meaning of this words encompasses the concept of enjoying something that you did necessarily have to earn or work for (e.g. “have the fruition of”). This is a poignant reference to that which we have in Christ — unmerited grace, forgiveness, the unearned reward of His accomplished work: our complete salvation. That is something that makes one truly glad! We enjoy the full possession of Christ Himself, a union with Him which entitles us to the “incomparable riches of His grace” (Eph. 2:6-7) which have qualified us to share in His inheritence (Col. 1:12)!
Rejoicing has a SOURCE outside of oneself, e.g. “enjoy the possession of, have the fruition of”; “to have ‘someone’ for oneself and enjoy”. What is the SOURCE of our joy? Christ! He has made us His and because we are in Him, we are enabled to enjoy the fruition of being His children and heirs. We have an inheritance in Him; though we did not earn it for ourselves, He has bestowed it upon us. He has done what we could not! He has made fruitful what was dead! This is the Gospel. And this is ‘charis’ – God’s grace displayed. He has made those who were sick and dead in sin, ALIVE so that we may thrive in Christ. In all of the trials and struggles of life, God has given us endless reasons for rejoicing.
Rejoicing has a PURPOSE. To rejoice is to be reminded of and delight in the truth of the Gospel, which is that our source of wellbeing, being glad, being joyful, and thriving is not found within ourselves, but in Jesus Christ the Lord — who He is and what He has done for us. He has reconciled us in order that we may bear fruit, grow, thrive. “…in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him…” Col. 1:21 He has accomplished not only our initial reconciliation but also our complete sanctification in Him — He will finish the good work He has begun in us.
Rejoicing has a GOAL. Rejoicing in the midst of suffering is based in God’s past faithfulness, reconciling us to Himself in Christ, steadfastly shepherding His children through all ages; and in His future glory, the total glorification of His church, bringing every saint to perfect completion in Him: “…Christ in you, the hope of glory…” (Col. 1:27).
I’m so excited to focus on this word throughout the coming year, draw near to God with this in mind and spend more time rejoicing in in the riches of His grace!