Let me stay with the subject of “joy” for a little longer. The key, I believe, to Paul’s “formula” for overcoming worry is having a joy that is bigger than the anxieties that confront us.
Joy, if we understand it correctly, is not having everything “together” in your circumstances. It means we have a deep, abiding assurance that we HAVE the most important thing… we KNOW the most important Person in our heart and spirit.
Joy is not silliness, or walking around with a grin on our face. It is possible to know great joy, even in the midst of great pain and sorrow. What Paul is advocating is FOCUSING on that joy instead of on the circumstances that confront us.
Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation.” We are going to have trouble, sorrow, heartache just like every other human being. To believe otherwise is to guarantee frustration and discontent.
To rejoice “continually” in the Lord means we are to change the focus and outlook of our life away from needing to have all of our circumstances working in sync. In the Lord, we have so many reasons to rejoice:
We have a “perfect peace.”
We have an abundant pardon.
We have generous provision.
We have continual protection.
We have a certain providence.
And that’s just the “p’s!” We have so much more to rejoice in than we have to be anxious about. Yet, we often default to anxiety in spite of that.
Paul’s command to “continually rejoice in the Lord” is not contingent on our circumstances being pleasant. In fact, Paul was being held as a prisoner by the Roman government at the time of this writing. Chained day and night to a Roman guard; awaiting the verdict of a sentence he would not be able to appeal.
And yet, he waited in joy! He had learned a secret that begins with the foundation of knowing where true happiness really rests… and it’s not in something we can purchase or earn, but in a gift given us by our Creator… in fact given to all who would ask!
Is your life characterized by joy? Ask someone who knows you well to be honest with you. Is that what they see? Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a crisis or a problem “rejoicing” even when there seemed to be no outward reason to do so?
That is what we must master. That is how we must seek to live. “Rejoice in the Lord always….”
- Does “joyful” describe your outlook on life? Is there something within you that keeps you focused on the positive in spite of circumstances that may not be positive?
- Ask a person who is close to you to truly evaluate your “JQ” – your “Joy Quotient.”
- Have you reflected today on any reason or reasons for joy in your life… if not start with the list above!