“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil 4:4)
This is a simple command: Rejoice always! And yet, it is one of the most difficult commands to obey. Why? We all want to be happy; nobody choses to be sad. It took me many years to learn how to rejoice in such a way that it becomes a life style of glorious, ever increasing and faithful joy. What is the problem?
Most people depend of their circumstances to create and maintain a life of happiness. This is a serious mistake because you cannot control your environment. There are too many factors that influence the things around you. In this life things go ‘up and down’. It is the same for all people, no matter where you live. A good job can be lost. A dear husband can leave his wife for another woman. Children fail exams and may choose to be wayward for a season. A sickness can wipe away all your savings. And many things like these…
For joy to be stable its source must be internal, spiritual. The fountain of joy must be the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer. Please note that it is only a born again child of God who is able to obey the command to ‘rejoice always, again and again’. According to the Bible all unbelievers are basically depressed and frustrated with their lives. They may hide their feelings behind fashion or a good make up but the heart is bleeding inside. Nobody can change his own heart! It is only God who created it that can touch it and change it!
This constant powerful rejoicing has to be ‘in the Lord’. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the child of God. It is possible for a believer to grieve the Holy Spirit. Then the joy becomes less but it is never completely wiped out. Thru repentance the ‘joy of salvation’ can be restored.
I had to learn and practice the holy habit of living joyfully. I had to learn to ignore my feelings. By the power of the Holy Spirit I had to learn how to kill my tendency to doubt the Word of God. My flesh had to be crucified with Christ so that my bent towards rebellion will die. With time, I learned to trust the Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth and strengthen me to obey it. Once thru the Cross I mastered my flesh, joy became a part of me. Always!
There is another mistake I made in the past. This is a common mistake with many young believers. I depended too much on my emotions to be happy. I forgot that spiritual joy is deeper than my emotions, which are superficial, an expression of the flesh. That is why my life was like a ‘roller coaster’. For example: yesterday I was very happy because my children behaved well. But today things changed. Because they forgot to clean their rooms I became angry and sad again. My sadness of today had the power to cancel the happiness of yesterday. I was like a man who never has any savings. That added to my anxiety for I felt that I can never be truly and permanently happy. This wrong pattern of thinking went on for many years. The devil cheated me often, stealing my peace and joy.
I got angry with myself. Then I one day my faith rose and I asked God for ‘Holy Ghost wisdom and strength’! (By the way, this is always a ‘dynamite’ prayer!). The Lord answered immediately! He said that I should ask for my ‘daily bread’. As the Cross I carry is a daily cross, so the bread must be a daily bread!!! This is a daily expectation of spiritual and natural food. It is not an hourly request and not a weekly request. Just daily and that is enough! Also, the Lord Jesus reminded me of His Word: Troubles come in daily doses too! “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Mt 6:34). Light shone in my spirit!
Praise the Lord! By His grace I had learned over the years to have separate ‘spiritual compartments’ for daily needs and daily prayers. My days are full with new mercies, new wisdom and prayers. This is my ‘daily secret’. My joy started flowing like a river connecting my days! In this way, my joy of yesterday cannot be damaged, polluted or spoiled by the ‘trouble’ that may come today. Each ‘item’ is separate and do not touch one another. I may have some anxiety today. I will pray to God about the matter. But my ‘yesterday’ joy has become part of me, for it has already been eternally saved in my heavenly account. That is why I can now testify that my joy is stable and strong as the Rock of Ages who gave it to me! The lusts of the flesh and the difficult circumstances around me are not able to destroy what God is building in me. To His glory and for my good! So, my children, I say rejoice! For Jesus is Lord over your lives! And I say again, rejoice!