May 3rd, 2020
Right throughout scripture, there are calls to “Rejoice in the Lord,” or to put it another way to have “joy” in the Lord. However, what is “Biblical” joy?
Simply put, “Biblical” joy is choosing to respond to external circumstances with inner contentment and satisfaction, because we know that God will use these experiences to accomplish His work in, and through our lives. As I understand it, this does not mean we carry around a false smile pretending everything is ok, it doesn`t mean we don`t question or wrestle with God in the circumstances we or others may find themselves in.
It doesn`t mean we go around all the time saying, “Praise the Lord” and so on.
However, we are conscious within our souls (and others are conscious too) that despite outward circumstances, we are drawing upon God himself, and secretly within us, God is at work in ways which we may not even understand and as a result, there is that satisfaction/joy there. So how can we “rejoice in the Lord always” There are two key things I think we can get our thinking around and take into prayer in the coming weeks (Please note - There are others I could add but space is limited)
1. God, Himself, is the source of our joy
Galatians 5:22-23 gives us a list of the fruit of the spirit — and joy is listed there as one of the by-products of the Holy Spirit living and abiding in us. This chapter in Galatians tells us that it is possible to “live in the Spirit” and “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16 and 25), meaning that God will naturally produce His fruit in our lives as we live for Him.
God alone can produce true joy — and He does that naturally through His Spirit living in those who have put their trust in Him. It is important for us to understand that only God Himself can give us the ability to respond to life’s difficult circumstances with that inner contentment and satisfaction but to do that we need a life that is open to the “potential” of God.
2. We can choose to respond to life’s trials with joy when we consider God’s purpose for those times of suffering/trial.
It is true that only God can supply genuine joy. However, there is a key help in James 1:2 to help us in terms of what we can do. This verse says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”
Notice the word “count.” Some other English versions of the Bible translate it, “consider.” It means to, systematically scrutinize or to examine as in taking an exam. The idea here is that the Christian believer should thoroughly list the potential advantages of this situation to gain a better understanding of what God may want to accomplish. In a phrase, all of us will recognise
“Count your many blessings; name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
At this time of great uncertainty, it is important that we empathise with the pain and loss of others. But it is also important that the joy that comes from knowing God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is evidenced by thankfulness and that deep inner joy and rejoicing that we are called to show as part of our Christian life and witness.