Rejoice Now and Forever
There’s a quest in every person’s heart to be happy and to remain happy. They pursue their happiness in what they desire, knowing that it would bring them happiness. Happiness is merely based on the happenings. Good happenings results in happiness and sad happenings leads to sorrow. Happiness as we know is short lived, very temporary, just one event or one favourable news does not bring us lasting gladness. So, why should we be in the pursuit of happiness when there is something that’s better?
The kind of gladness that does not depend on the happenings or the circumstances; the kind of contentment that surpasses every want, the kind of ease that defeats every disease, the confidence that overcomes every hurdle, the mourning that turns into dancing, this joy the world does not know anything about, because the world does not have it, this joy only comes to those that believe in Jesus Christ because this joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
The sad thing is that many Christians don’t know anything of this joy either, and the few that know how to tap into this joy, also lose their perception and so miss out on their joy. So most of us walk around down-trodden and depressed when we should be going about telling everyone that, “The Lord has done great things for us, we are filled with joy” (Psalms 126:3). Our joy is a great evangelisation tool. Our joy gives life to our testimonies and draws people to the Lord.
A Christian that does not have joy in his life is a defeated Christian. Without joy we are weak, we fail, we are unproductive and we are in despair. For the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10b). It is not any joy but the joy that comes from the Lord. We need joy to triumph in every situation of our lives. Joy is not just a smile or a grin, although you display it through smiling and laughter, but joy is much more and much deeper than just the appearance of it.
When life is at its best, joy is the easiest to keep, but true joy is proved when you are at your deepest valley in life. How do you manifest joy in the midst of great sorrow? Why do Christians find it challenging to be joyful when faced with any hardship? We know that joy is not apparent by just wishful thinking alone, although you need to set your mind up to be joyful. Joy does not just fall on you, because joy is not a gift but instead it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. To produce any fruit it needs to be cultivated, it needs to grow.
Athletes who win gold medals don’t just wake up one morning and decide to compete. They train themselves to achieve excellence. We train not to compete with anyone but we train ourselves to be joyful, to produce fruits of the Holy Spirit. How do we produce joy? We produce joy when we are in obedience to God. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (John 15:10-12).
We are instructed to rejoice always, in all circumstances. Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice (Philippians 4:4). Our rejoicing comes not from our circumstances but from the Lord, in whatever situation we may be in. When our focus is on the Lord, we can always rejoice. Joy comes through revelation, knowing that our God will never leave us nor forsake us. Joy is not the absence or denial of sorrow, but joy helps us overcome sorrow. In sickness, we can be joyful knowing that by the stripes of Jesus we are healed (Isaiah 53:5b). We can turn our mourning into dancing by knowing that our loved ones who are dead in Christ shall be resurrected and will forever live and reign with Jesus. For his anger is but for a moment; His favour is for a life-time: Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalms 30:5).
When we are in any need we can be joyful knowing that, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). When we are persecuted we can rejoice on God’s promises. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5: 10-12).
We can be joyful when we go through various sufferings. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into all sorts of trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance (James 1:2-3). We can be joyful when our end is near knowing that, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalms 23:4).
We can rejoice every day of our lives, every single moment because this is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalms 118:24). We don’t wait for the day to be perfect in order to rejoice. We rejoice in the Lord, who is the same yesterday, today and forever. We rejoice knowing who we are in Christ Jesus. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12).
May be you are in severe pain and find it hard to be joyful and you wish the pain would go away. No matter how intense you pain is, you have a greater chance of recovery when you embrace joy. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22). We are to radiate our joy; our joy displays our faith and confidence in God, our joy is an offering to God. Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! (Psalms 100:2).
The Lord is pleased with a joyful heart. Take an inventory of your joy today and analyse if your joy is steadfast, irrespective of whether you are on the mountain top or in the deepest trench. If you find your joy wavering when things go wrong, find the right perspective in the Lord and rejoice. Sometimes it’s not the big disasters that steal our joy, but the little ones, such as being stuck in a traffic, unfavourable weather, Monday morning blues, slow internet connections, poor customer service, etc. Don’t allow anything to steal your joy. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17).
I see many women get very depressed when they see themselves getting aged and wrinkled. Aging is inevitable and a sign that our mortal bodies is getting deteriorated. But we have hope in the resurrection knowing that we will possess a glorified body that will have no wrinkles or blemishes and the beauty that will never fade. Until then, let your wrinkles show where your smile has been. Let your grey hair tell tales of wisdom. Let your age be a sign of blessing knowing you have passed that way, and are closer and ahead to your eternal destination than those that are young. Don’t be disheartened that you have aged, or look behind and say those were the glorious youthful days, but be filled with hope and anticipation for you are yet to see your glorious days. When you see your mortal body aging, rejoice for you are getting closer to your glorified body. So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15: 42-44).
No matter what hurdles and suffering you go through in life, never give up your joy. We have Jesus who willing went through the suffering to set an example for us. Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). Therefore run the race the best you can and be joyful in the assurances that God will not hold anything good from you, and great is the glory that is yet to be revealed. But as it is written, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2: 9)
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