By Elaine Saville
When I announced to my family that I was naming the ministry, “Allegra,” my daughter noted that Allegra was the name of an allergy capsule. I had to admit that I had considered its association with an antihistamine as a potential drawback. Yet, I felt that the meaning of the word was important enough to use it any way. Allegra is derived from an Italian word meaning, “joyful, lively or happy.” Besides, I reasoned, those using the so-named allergy pill probably found joy at being free of stuffy sinuses. I am good with that! ☺ As this is the first blog post, I decided it would be fun to share some thoughts on Allegra’s meaning.
In this post I will talk about the definition of joy and the reason why Paul would call us to such a big challenge, “Rejoice in the Lord Always.” What an all-inclusive, daunting kind of word, “always,” so this must be something pretty important.
Joy is a state of mind. It is independent of circumstances. My trusty Key Word Study Bible says that the word “rejoice” means to be calmly happy, contented and cheerful. It is closely related to delight and (interestingly) grace.
One of my favorite Christian movies is the “Matthew Movie.” What I love about it is that “Jesus” doesn’t speak with a somber, deep voice and a British accent. Instead, we find a depiction of Jesus as one who laughs easily and even knows how to have fun.
Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Not only that, but God wants us to know Him as joy, and know the experience of that joy in our own lives. In Jesus’ high priestly prayer He talked about the disciples having His joy “made full” in them (John 17:13).
There are several reasons why God wants us to have joy. Probably the most important reason is because He loves us and it is part of our inheritance, “For the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Ro 14:17). Gift-giving an important way I express my love for others, it is my love language. I take great delight in giving gifts. I love it even more when the gift is both appreciated and used. It is the same with our Heavenly Father, He wants us to rejoice in the gift of life He has given us.
Our joy is a statement of faith. When we are “merry as the day is long,” as Shakespeare phrased it, we are demonstrating that we trust God, regardless of our circumstances. “For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust His holy name.” (Psalm 33:21). If we lose our joy, it is often because we have lost faith.
When we have the joy of the Lord, we have strength (Neh. 8:10). In Zeph. 3:17 we see that joy and victory are intimately related. Rejoicing is a powerful spiritual weapon.
Isn’t it great to be around a person who exudes merriment? A rejoicing Christian is appealing. People spend their lives trying to find happiness and peace. As God’s joy works through us, it is a testimony and witness to God’s grace and it points to the source of our joy.
Becoming a joyful person, despite circumstances isn’t as hard as it seems, especially with God’s help. In the following post, we will explore the ways to cultivate a joyful response to life. Oh, and next time you see a box of Allegra antihistamines, think Joy, and smile!