The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"Rejoice In the Lord Always"
"Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength" (Habbakuk 3:17-19; emphasis added)
"Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).
Is it possible for born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to fulfill the seemingly impossible command to "rejoice in the Lord always?" First, if it were not, we would have to conclude God acts unfairly in calling us to a responsibility we cannot fulfill. This, He cannot do in accordance with His character and nature.
"Justice and judgment are the habitation of Thy throne" (Psalm 89:14).
Believers, through the leading and enabling of the indwelling Holy Spirit, have the capacity to fulfill all of God's callings and commands. We do not always do so in this present life, but the power of the risen Lord Jesus Christ ever works within us to enable faith and faithfulness (Philippians 2:13). This includes the capacity to "rejoice in the Lord always." Of course, human or earthly thinking suggests such a notion to be ludicrous. How can we always rejoice in such a world of sorrow and grief? The Apostle Paul, through whom God directed His command of joy, also greatly helps us to understand and respond to the calling.
"As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (II Corinthians 6:10).
Joy and sorrow often flow concurrently in born again believers. We can feel great sadness, while also rejoicing in our Lord and in His presence, promise, and working in our lives. The sorrow involves emotion and physical sensation. The joy primarily involves spiritual conviction, the conviction of faith. We can feel sadness, while affirming joy as a matter of believing the Word of God. Indeed, we do not have to feel happiness in order to rejoice because joy, as defined by Scripture, involves a far deeper reality than emotion and sensation. James greatly helps us in this understanding:
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations (trials)" (James 1:2).
Note that James does not call us to "feel" it all joy when we face troubles that elicit sadness and sorrow. Instead, we are to "count" it all joy. The word in the original Greek means to lead with consideration. James' command does not suggest emotion or physical sensation of joy, but rather a reasoned determination to rejoice, as led by the Holy Spirit, and chosen within our hearts regardless of what we feel. In this sense, we can "count it all joy" regardless of our emotional or physical sensations. Or again, as Paul testified, he was at times "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." We might pray accordingly:
"Heavenly Father, I feel much sorrow and grief. However, I know You call me to rejoice in You always. I also believe that I can do so through the Holy Spirit's leading and enabling. I therefore choose to rejoice in You regardless of what I feel as a matter of trusting Your faithfulness and ability to be all I need You to be. I count it all joy."
The day will come when every tear shall be wiped away, and every sorrow will take flight, never to be known again. Barring our Lord's return, this is not that day. This is the day to rejoice in both happy and sad times as a matter of faith in the faithfulness of God, and as a matter of our own faithfulness to His glory and will. This is the day to "rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice." This is the day to "count it all joy." This is the day to be "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." And this is the day to glorify our Lord with joy known in both laughter and weeping. He is that present, that able, and that active in our hearts and lives. Indeed, God Himself is our joy. Thus, we can rejoice at all times, and in all things, and we must. Understanding that Biblical joy involves conviction more than emotion helps us to know joy in our own hearts, and even more importantly, to transmit it to others for the glory of the Lord Jesus, and the blessing of their hearts. In this wondrous sense, joy is a ministry, and one we fulfill no less in dark valleys than on bright mountaintops.
"O send out Thy light and Thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto Thy holy hill, and to Thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy."
"These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."
Weekly Memory Verse
Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.