The primary effect of joy involves not ourselves, but rather our Lord.
“Rejoice evermore” (I Thessalonians 5:16). “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31).
We rejoice first and foremost to honor and obey God. He made us to experience fulfillment, peace and joy not through self-interest, but through the otherness of love, which “seeketh not her own” (I Corinthians 13:5). So long as we seek to fill our own hearts, therefore, we shall find them woefully empty. When, through Christ, we devote ourselves to God and to others, we shall find them wonderfully full. “Give, and it shall be give unto you” (Luke 6:38). The self sacrificial determination to “count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations” makes possible this discovery of a rejoicing that graces our hearts because the blessing of our own hearts is no longer paramount in our determination (James 1:2).
The choice to rejoice in difficulty actually provides one of the great ministries available to every believer. Indeed, a thousand sermons may not influence more than the hurting Christian who exemplifies and bears witness to the truth that the Lord Jesus is as capable of revealing His joy in pain as well as in pleasure. The Apostle Paul who testified of being “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” speaks to us as much by his testimony of joy in Christ as by His teaching of how such joy is to be known (II Corinthians 6:10). Indeed, let us consider the trials of our own present circumstance, condition and situation. Could they be determined or allowed by God in order to provide opportunity for glorifying and revealing the Lord Jesus to our particular sphere of influence? The Biblical answer is obvious, and our rejoicing not only makes possible such ministry. It is such ministry.
“The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). This same Christ now dwells in those who believe through the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Thus, His joy is now our joy, and His joy is the glory of His Father and the blessing of others. Fewer more challenging commands present themselves in Scripture than this calling to “count it all joy.” However, fewer promises more assure our hearts of the “great salvation” provided by the Lord Jesus (Hebrews 2:3). He is wise enough, powerful enough, present enough, and loving enough to compose songs of joy within our hearts where singing is rarely heard. Our Lord is glorified thereby, others are blessed, and this is our joy.
“Shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?… “And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” (Psalm 137:4; Acts 16:22-25)