Rejoice in the Lord Always, and I will say it again, Rejoice! ~Philippians 4.4
I love this verse so much. But not just because it says to rejoice. It’s the way it is written. The words make me want to throw my hands up in the air, or clap aloud, or dance in a circle, just oozing with an uncontrollable joy.
Ok. Maybe that’s just me. But whatever.
I find it so very interesting that this seemingly raucous invitation to experience God’s joy follows so closely on the heels of a plea to help two women reconcile their differences.
Now, these weren’t just people of the community, random parishioners, occasional attenders. These were women that Paul described as having ‘contended at my side in the cause of the Gospel.’ These were women on the front lines spreading the message of Jesus, believers boldly out there in a society that shunned their Savior, their faith. These were no minor figures in the Philippi church. Their names were in the ‘book of life.’ They were co-workers with Paul in building Christ’s church.
This conflict had some crucial ramifications for the church. (Just think of what conflict today between church leaders does to the world’s opinion of our faith.) Paul believed there was a lesson to be had, even in their conflict. Pleading for them to reconcile, Paul switches immediately to joy.
In the Renewing the Heart devotional, Choose Joy, I wrote this:
Perhaps we have too often ignored the role that rejoicing plays in reconciliation. Maybe resolving conflict is less about us, and more about God. Maybe it’s about getting our mind on the important – God – rather than staying on the unimportant – our conflict. That doesn’t negate reconciliation, and solving the conflict. Rather, it encourages us to make sure to return quickly to the bigger picture.
And that bigger picture isn’t necessarily getting our own way in a conflict, or even completely coming to an agreement. It is God’s love permeating whatever is happening whether it be conflict or celebration, pain or happiness.
If we don’t quickly move to God and the joy we have in just knowing Him and what His Son did for us, we could mire ourselves down in a muck of sin.
You have boxing gloves on, and are ready to duke it out with your adversary who, mysteriously, comes running into the boxing ring smiling, dancing, almost giggly. Even when she is not smiling like a goofy person, her face – there is something that is beaming off of it, radiating from somewhere inside her.
At first you think she is crazy-cuckoo, but her face is just beaming. She talks of the conflict, of how to work it out, of her role in it, of your role in it. Her words are all true, and if she wasn’t dancing around in glee you might even bop her one for saying them.
Yet, how can you possibly hit, or even be angry with, this joyful person?
Ahhhh….don’t we wish every conflict would unfold in such a weird, wonderful way? I am not naive. Human nature doesn’t seem to allow for such happy conflict resolution. But yet it seems like it could, if we each choose joy.
Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. ~Psalm 119.111
In The Message, that last phrase is worded like this: ‘How happy it makes me.’ The Word of God can make us happy. Happy. It is pouring His word into us that gives us that fruit of joy without us having to force it, pretending that we have it.
In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy. ~2 Corinthians 7.4
Don’t miss this. Paul used the word ‘overflowing.’ Paul is overflowing – dripping over the edges, leaking out the top, oozing all over – with JOY. And remember, this statement follows a chapter that highlighted the hardships he endured – so far – for the sake of the Gospel message. Yet, even then, he overflowed with joy in ALL his affliction…
And Joy is possible whenever we are afflicted, sad, in pain, hurt, bothered, perplexed, aggravated, frustrated, mad as a hornet. It’s what we have in Christ: overflowing joy in all.
If we choose it.
And I, for one, want some – no, all – of that!
Download our free devotional, Choose Joy, here.
Here’s additional joy-related verses that you can add to your Scriptural arsenal:
The hope of the righteous brings joy… ~Proverbs 10.28
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. ~Psalm 16.11
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. ~Psalm 5.11