“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” — Philippians 4:4
Have you checked your joy level lately? Is it full? Half full? Perilously low?
When the apostle Paul wrote the letter of Philippians he was a Roman prisoner and his case was coming up shortly. He could be acquitted or he could be beheaded. But in spite of his circumstances he said, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”
The root word of “rejoice” is joy. Rejoice — to engage your soul in happy celebration.
So many people are sad and seem to have lost their joy in our world today. Their political candidate did not win, COVID-19 has disrupted their lifestyle and many are having to limit their social life. Large gatherings aren’t allowed, so there aren’t any birthday parties or family reunions. Children are having a hard time learning with the shutdown. Some jobs have disappeared and businesses have closed.
In Philippians verse 6, Paul says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.”
The Greek word translated for “anxious” means “to be pulled in different directions.” Our hope pulls us in one direction and our fears pull us in the opposite direction.
Spiritually, worry is wrong thinking and wrong feelings about circumstances, people and things. It is also the greatest thief of our joy. We can conquer worry. Yes, we can conquer worry.
As verse 6 points out, it begins with prayer. But notice that Paul uses the words prayer, supplication and thanksgiving. Three different words that should describe our prayer life. And our prayer time should include all three. It requires time alone with God, the earnest sharing of our needs and/or problems, and then giving thanks to the Lord.
This type of praying does not come quickly in a Christian’s life; it takes time and effort. But it conquers worry and allows the joy of the Lord to permeate our life.
In his book, “Be Joyful,” Warren Wiersbe gives a perfect example of this. You will need to read the full account in Daniel, chapter 6. When King Darius announced that his subjects should only pray to him, Daniel went to his room, opened his windows and prayed as before. He prayed, and as verse 10 states, he “gave thanks before his God.” Daniel prayed, made supplication, gave thanks and had perfect peace, even when he spent the night in a den of lions.
So, back to my question: Have you checked your joy level lately? We have many reasons to be joyful today. Have you seen a doctor lately? I had an appointment with my heart doctor recently. Normally this entails waiting from 20 to 40 minutes or more in a crowded waiting room. There were only three people in the waiting room. I hardly had my Kindle out to begin reading and my name was called!
No matter the day or age, Christians always have reasons to be joyful. In 2017, Bob Russell spoke at Mid-Atlantic Christian University. He said four things that I remember: Be confident of your salvation through Jesus Christ; choose to be joyful every day regardless of circumstances; become increasingly generous with your resources; and spend more time thinking about what awaits you in heaven. You ministers reading this can preach that outline.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” Paul didn’t say be joyful just when something good is happening or you are having an unusually great day. He said, “always.”
Rejoice even when you can’t have the family reunion, the birthday gifts don’t get to the grandchildren on time, the waiting time at the restaurant is long due to the limited number of tables that they can use, or the item you need is not on the shelf in the grocery store.
Check your joy level and “rejoice in the Lord always.”
Emmett Murphy is a retired Christian Church minister.