Ah, joy! Who would not want to have an abiding joy? … a deep-seated delight which is not defined by circumstances?
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). We hear this word from God to us in the Bible, and we wonder, “How can I do that?”
“Rejoice … always.” Clearly God calls us to be a continually joyful people, but how do we get there? How can a believer in Jesus Christ be joyful when …
- The coronavirus keeps taking more and more lives?
- Many people are depressed, anxiety-ridden, and in despair after prolonged COVID isolation?
- The media churns out doom and gloom daily?
- Our nation is deeply divided?
- Wars continue in this world?
- The doctor says, “You have stage four cancer.”?
- Personal finances are woefully insufficient?
This is how I answer the question, “How can we rejoice in the Lord always?” We can rejoice in the Lord always by believing that He is in control of all things, and by believing that He is working all things for good, even though we may not see it right now.
In other words, we can rejoice in the Lord always by looking at our circumstances differently—by looking at our world through the lens of God’s character and His unfailing purposes.
It is absolutely necessary for God’s people to view all of life as within the sovereign goodness of God. The only other path is despair.
The wonderful thing is that after rereading one of my favorite verses during my daily Bible time, God revealed to me that there is more that God has for us when He says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” He intends something very personal.
Here is that favorite verse: “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). Notice the middle phrase—in Your presence there is fullness of JOY.
Christians can rejoice always because the Christian is always in the presence of the Lord, and because the Lord Himself is the source of our joy. Him. Yes, what He does—working all things out for good—adds to our joy. But He, Himself, is our joy.
And truly, that is precisely what Philippians 4:4 says! “Rejoice in the Lord …” We rejoice in Him.
How do we then step into this joy? Let me offer two suggestions, both of equal importance.
One, cultivate an awareness of the presence of the Lord.
The Bible leaves no doubt that the Lord is right here with us. He is really, truly here. He is in us; we are in Him. Many, many verses tell us that. Here are just a few: Psalm 16:8; Matthew 28:20; John 14:16-17, 23; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27, 3:3; Hebrews 13:5. Get your Bible and read these passages when you finish reading this article.
God is with us—we must tell ourselves that fact over and over and over. And not just tell ourselves that truth, but talk with Him throughout the day. This awareness will not happen all by itself. Satan will vigorously oppose you as you cultivate a conscious awareness of God being present. He will temp you to think, “This is a waste of time; I don’t feel His presence.” But don’t let that bother you—stay with it. Do not fall into Satan’s trap of thinking that your feelings are what matter. God says He is with you and His Word is true—believe it at all costs.
A first step to becoming more aware that God is with you could be to set an hourly reminder on your phone or watch. When you hear the alert, you think of the Lord and say something to Him: “You are right here right now. Thank you.”
Two, get to know the Lord more and more.
Seek Jesus in the Bible. Ask God to reveal Himself to you through His Word.
If you have been in the Daughters of the King Tuesday morning or Sunday morning Life Groups, or if you have been through my Foundations 1 study, you have heard from Sue Ann and me a simple, actionable way to get to know God through the Bible. When you read some verses in the Bible, ask these three questions:
- What does this say about God?
- What does that tell me about God?
- How do I respond to Him in light of this?
My life has been completely transformed by doing this. Sue Ann’s life has also been transformed. Yours will be, too.
As we deepen our knowledge of, and personal relationship with the Lord, then being aware of His presence through the day will bring greater and greater joy. And, as an added benefit, He will strengthen you. As the Bible says, “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Sue Ann and I use a phrase to help remind us of the Lord’s blessed presence: “Jesus now.” Right here. Right now. Our precious Savior, the source of our joy, is with us.