This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Neh. 8:10)
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!” (Ps. 40:16)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Phlp. 4:4)
From cover to cover, the Bible is filled with instructions to rejoice and be glad in the Lord. One might think that those words were spoken in times of celebration, victory, answer to prayer, or any other mountaintop experience. And yes, sometimes that was the case. But more often than not, the exhortation to be glad and rejoice was given when there was great grief, fear, remorse, agony, strife, and persecution. This might initially seem like an odd thing to say to someone who is going through a rough time.
But when you think about it, it begins to make sense. Life inevitably will get tough, things will happen that throw us off, we will mess up and make mistakes that are impossible to correct. And before we know it, we are sad, mad, scared, and everything in between. This is when God wants to remind us that He is still in control. He knows exactly what we’re going through, and He sees our future clearly. He knew before we were even born that we were going to encounter these difficulties. He is never surprised. Just like a parent can often foresee when their child will run into trouble, our Heavenly Father knows what we are getting ourselves into. And just like any good parent who will be there for their child to run back to and find a strong and loving shoulder to cry on, our Father in heaven says to us: “Cast all your anxiety on Me because I care for you.” (1 Pet. 5:7, paraphrased).
Will He immediately pull us out of all trouble, bail us out, and make all our problems disappear? No. But He promised us something even better. Something the world cannot understand. Something that goes completely against human nature:
He promised us peace amidst the storm, and joy in our relationship with Him. When we take our eyes off our own little world, and fix our eyes on Him who is infinitely greater and wiser, we will discover that He is the anchor who holds us steady when everything around us falls apart. He will fill our hearts with joy and peace if we only choose to trust in Him and depend on His strength. He wants to carry our burdens for us.
This is how God can be glorified. When people around us see that we are at peace, joyful and thankful no matter what we go through, they take notice. We can rise above the worst of circumstances and point to God Who is the source of all our joy and strength!
This is easier said than done. It can be extremely difficult to be joyful when all we feel like doing is cry, fret, scream, or hide. But in the end, it comes down to a choice. If we want to rise above our circumstances, we must choose to trust God and His care for us, and ask Him to change our heart and mind to find His joy and His peace that will sustain us. We must choose to allow Him to give us an attitude of praise and worship toward Him.
Are you going through something right now that is dragging you down, stressing you out, or causing you to feel overwhelmed? Choose to look at your Father Who wants to comfort you, and Who wants to give you the strength to be joyful in Him, no matter how dark the road ahead of you is. Trust in Him, and He will be your Joy!