~Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice!”~
So many times in both the Old and New Testaments, God’s people are commanded to rejoice in the Lord. Practically, this seems like a hard command. How on earth, while we are wading through our everyday ups and downs, can we rejoice at all times? But considering who we are and what has been done for us, how can we NOT rejoice? God has forgiven us, given us hope, taken away our guilt and given us purpose! To rejoice always does not mean that we have a happy face all the time and that everything rolls off our backs. It does not mean that we only cry happy tears. It does not mean that we are singing and dancing at all times. It does not mean that we are required to paste happy plastic smiles on our faces when life is not playing along or we are failed Christians. Joy of the Lord is something deeper—it is the song that springs from our hearts when we are happy. It is the strength we find when we have nothing left. It is the peace that gives us hope for a positive future when life just stinks. The emotions we have do not affect our joy; we can be crying our eyes out and feeling like our hearts are breaking, but our joy does not disappear.
There is, however, a difference between having joy and acting on it. We can’t just let our joy sit, unseen, at the bottom of our hearts’ reservoir. We must REJOICE! We must let our joy show for all the world to see! This is part of our witness. Our joy should be visible for the unsaved to see and thirst for. Nobody wants to be like a sourpuss. If religion turns your personality into a wrinkled-up raisin, than it is just that—religion. Religion, not a living, active relationship with the God of the Universe. People can tell the difference!
Joy is something that I have been thinking about. I think that sometimes I do not do a very good job of showing my joy. I am not a very effervescent person, and I tend to be extremely serious most of the time. I have been learning to lighten up; however, I have also found that unless I watch myself, my default expression is one of absolute crabbiness! I sometimes listen in amazement to what comes out of my mouth—often, even when I am thinking positively, I say one negative thing after another. Time to be more intentional about reflecting my inward joy? I think so! A wise man I know once said, “I’m not going to walk through life looking like I was baptized in pickle juice… keep the smiling, keep the joy… It gets the joy back when you stop focusing on trivial stuff.”
It’s time, Christians, to stop focusing on the trivial stuff. It’s time to focus on the eternal stuff. Who cares if I get less than a 95 on my Ethics test? Who cares if I drop a clean fork now and then while I’m working in the cafeteria? Who cares if say something stupid to someone I just met? These things won’t matter in two weeks, so I shouldn’t let them steal my joy now. The important thing—what I should be focusing on—is that God has big plans for me. He has a beautiful life for me, and He has an even more beautiful eternity for me. He has a beautiful eternity for YOU. Rejoice! Are you ready to let your joy shine?
Images copyright Breana Franks 2012