By Elaine Saville
Sometimes it seems like joy is in short supply, especially when we are on the “down” side of life’s “ups n downs.” The thing I have come to learn is that rejoicing is both a choice and a discipline, regardless of circumstances. That doesn’t mean that we won’t have times when we genuinely feel emotions that seem to be the antithesis of joy. After all, Jesus wept, He felt anguish, and anger. How then, can Paul make such a bold statement about rejoicing always? Joy is deeper than an emotion. It is a fruit of the Spirit, a place of contentment and peace IN THE LORD that transcends our feelings. Joy comes as we choose to be in His presence. Psalm 16:8 says: “Because you are close to me and always available, my confidence will never be shaken, for I experience your wrap-around presence every moment. My heart and soul explode with joy–full of glory!” (TPT). The foundation of experiencing a “rejoicing” lifestyle is living in relationship with the one who is joy. When we have confidence in who He is and who we are in Him, then we experience a greater freedom from the concerns that typically afflict and limit us.
We can be feeling genuine sadness and still acknowledge and experience with joy God’s love and faithfulness. Ok, I know that sounds easier than it is. Truly, the last thing I want to do when I am in the “pit of despair” (to quote, The Princess Bride) is to rejoice. Admittedly, there are times that I stubbornly choose to stay in the pit. After all, even Paul said he didn’t always do what he wanted to do ☺ However, I have found that something very powerful happens when I ask the Holy Spirit for the fruit of joy. In times when I have been in the midst of great sorrow over deep losses, God was there. All I needed to do was invite Him into that place of almost over-whelming pain and shame. Then, by His grace, I was able to rejoice. When the rejoicing welled-up and bubbled out of me, heaviness lifted and I felt an inner peace and contentment. I still needed to go through the grieving process, and yet I felt like the Holy Spirit had wrapped me in a down comforter of love as I did.
There are habits we can develop (by God’s grace and an act of our will) to encourage the fruitfulness of joy to thrive. We can learn to sing, praise and worship (Psalm 33:1-3) throughout the day. I love to do that while driving in the car, and when the windows are rolled up, I am super loud! Thankfulness is another important “rejoicing” discipline. Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name!” (NASB). Have you ever noticed how hard it is to be grumpy when you are praising God for all of the amazing things in your life? Often overlooked is the need to establish and maintain a day of rest. Rejoicing is much harder won when we are tired and stressed. The cool thing is that Sabbath rest affords us time to reconnect with our source of joy.
I pray lots of blessings of joy over you. Happy rejoicing!