Solomon tells us in Eccl 3:4 that there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” Sorrowful people can feel joy, and joyful people can feel sorrow. Jesus was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” but He was also a man of joy.
Even though there are appropriate times for each of these feelings, we are encouraged to, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4 NLT)
Rejoice in the Lord… always?! How can we rejoice always?
Joy is Powerful
As I mentioned in my previous article, the letter to the Philippians is Paul’s “joy” letter. Paul uses the equivalent Greek words for “joy” or “rejoicing” approximately fifteen times in this epistle. Paul tells the Philippians to rejoice always because he knew as truth how powerful joy and rejoicing is for the believer.
Joy is a major player in the Christian life. It is not just a characteristic of kingdom life; it is a powerful spiritual force of the kingdom (Rom. 14:17). Joy was the ability that Jesus had to endure the cross and its suffering for all of humanity (Heb. 12:2).
Joy is Important
Paul modeled the importance of always rejoicing in the Lord. In Acts 16, we read how Paul and Silas were wrongly imprisoned in Philippi. At midnight, they chose to pray and praise God in the midst of an impossible situation.
Despite their hardship, their worship and joy in Christ positioned them for a miracle. God suddenly sent an earthquake that shook the prison, broke everyone’s chains, and opened the prison doors. They were delivered, and the Philippian jailor and his household came to Jesus that night.
I’d like to believe I would have that much faith and courage. The truth is, most of us grumble and complain instead of rejoicing always when faced with challenges.
Joy is a Choice
Joy flows from your relationship with Christ, not from the external circumstances you are in. Joy is an enduring quality that sustains you through difficult times, a characteristic entirely different from happiness. Happiness depends on “happenings,” but peace and joy flow from your relationship with God in the “happenings.” Happiness can be fleeting, but when you are truly abiding in Christ, His peace and joy remain constant.
Your ability to rejoice in all circumstances will safeguard your faith. God is always good, but suffering is experienced as part of your Christian walk. Having a right perspective on problems and suffering will keep you on the “rug of peace,” and full of God’s joy despite hardships and setbacks. Events happen in life, and often you have no control over them. However, you do have control over how you react to them.
Remember, God works everything for your good. Never lose your praise and never lose hope; it may be midnight, but God specializes in “suddenlies.”
Love Begets Joy
What you need to know today is that nothing and no one can separate you from your Father’s love. God is for you, not against you. No one can take your birthright from you. You are a covenant child, and your Father loves you with an everlasting love.
The more in love with Jesus you are, the easier it is to rejoice always. When He is your closest friend, His joy will have no limitations in your life. You may not “feel” blessed today, but circumstances and feelings change. The truth you can rest your faith upon is that you are blessed—always—even in the midst of a prison.
The Father delights in you! Because of this, you can give thanks to God always, no matter the circumstances.
Learn to rejoice, pray, and thank God always, even in the midst of the most difficult situations. When we live conscious of what God has done and is doing in our midst, we prosper.
Genuine faith knows that God holds everything in His hands. You are His beloved, and He has your best interest in mind; trust Him always and learn to rejoice in Him at all times. A close relationship with Jesus will keep you in His peace and joy, free of worry and fear.