“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again-rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
Am I reading this correctly? Rejoice always, at all times, no matter what. What about when the car breaks down, it seems I have more bills than money, I put myself in a bad situation, a family member is sick, I have a disagreement with my spouse or friend? What about the unexplainable: the child born with a defect, stories of rape and sexual abuse, natural disasters, or senseless acts of violence, what about all that has happened to me? “Always be full of joy in the Lord…”
Not joy in the tv, the lovely nap, the car you just bought, fresh baked cookies, new clothes, or the flowers you received, but joy in the Lord. Paul is saying this because he knows things/people/experiences can bring happiness, but only God brings joy. Eventually, you have to cut the tv off, wake up, park the car, eat the cookies, etc. But God; He is unchanging, the same yesterday, today, and forever. His character, love, abounding grace, righteousness, and peace remain. This may sound a bit harsh, but your joy should not be hindered by circumstances or afflictions.
How is it possible to have joy and be strong in the Lord? It’s simple, BE in His presence.
“In His presence there is fullness of joy…”
Joy is a natural outcome of fellowship with God. Joy is permanent, full, weighty, joy enhances, joy trumps sorrow and suffering. Joy also strengthens. Nehemiah said “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” [Neh 8:10]. Rejoicing in God and serving Him with a thankful heart will give strength to your mind and body to perform your duties, stand firm, and oppose the enemies schemes. The more you understand God’s word, the more comfort you find in it.
When I fellowship with God, I like to sing. Which is neat because my middle name, Rena, is Hebrew for joyous melody/song and peace. I’ve been told I’m a walking jukebox or musical. Every moment I spend with the Lord is not the same. Sometimes, I simply sit before Him, lay out, listen intently, journal, dance, cry, read, listen to music, reflect on His goodness, what He has done, His promises, or a combination of those. It doesn’t matter, I’m just desperate to get in His presence. Honestly, I don’t always “feel” different after being with Him. That’s why you can’t trust feelings; they’re too fickle. When I don’t have joy afterward I ask myself “why” because I want to be on the same page as God. What am I holding onto, what lie do I believe? I’m completely honest and real about what I’m feeling or thinking, no matter how silly it seems. When you have that expectation you are allowing God to completely shift your perspective to His. It’s extremely important to be in His presence. If you can shift your perspective, your emotions will line up correctly and you will have the renewed strength of the Lord to help you through anything.
“He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.”
Enjoy! “Trading my Sorrow” by Israel Hougton