12 June 2020
I will say it again: rejoice!
The dictionary defines Joy as 'a feeling of great pleasure and more than happiness.'
It is the feeling we feel when life is good -
when we and our loved ones are healthy, happy and fulfilled,
when we are doing well at work, when our team is winning.
Most people do not talk about the happiness of heartbreak, or the pleasure of pain.
So, what does this really mean?
How do you rejoice in the Lord always?
How do you rejoice when a close family member has just died?
When you have been told you have a live threatening disease?
When you don't know if you have enough money to feed your children for the rest of week?
When you are living out on the streets?
In the Greek text, the word translated as 'rejoice' comes from the root 'char'
meaning "favourably disposed, leaning towards."
But what are we favourably disposed or leaning toward?
Our problems? Our pain? Our circumstances?
No. If we do that, we will never rejoice.
The word translated "rejoice" is also a associated with 'charis' which means "grace."
So, we are not favourably disposed and leaning toward our circumstances;
we are favourably disposed and leaning toward God's grace.
Literally, to rejoice is to experience God's grace (favour)
and be conscious (glad) for His grace.
There are some people who naturally seem to have an inner peace and joy
within them whatever they are going through.
Do you know anyone like that?
I have met a few throughout my life and I wish I had that serenity.
But we can rejoice because of the good news of what Jesus has already done for us.
Christian joy is the gladness we feel, not because of our present circumstances,
but because Jesus, our Savior, lives;
because we belong to him and he is making all things new.
What are we 'leaning towards' in our lives?
When we lean towards something, we begin to move in that direction.
Are we moving toward our problem or toward God's grace?
Is our inclination to focus on the negative or the positive of who God is and what He has done for us?
The Christian faith does not deny the reality of pain and struggle,
we are told we will have both, but it doesn't wallow in it either.
'We do not grieve as those who have no hope' (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
We lean toward the Lord who gives us strength. God
"gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength" (Isaiah 40:29).
When we lean into the Lord, knowing his love,
strength and comfort is always there for us,
we can rejoice in Him always in spite of our circumstances.
Only God knows and understands what we, as individuals,
are facing right now. If we lean on him, he will renew our strength.
'You will mount up with wings like eagles.
You will run and not be weary. You will walk and not faint. ' (Isaiah 40:31).
So we can rejoice in the knowledge that we are God's beloved children,
and that we can put our trust in him.
That he loves us with an unconditional love that will never let us down
and that we are saved through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
And that is a lot to rejoice and be thankful for.