Philippians 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let you requests be made known to the God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.“
Rejoice… what does it mean to rejoice?
Often you will hear rejoicing equated to happiness. However I get the sense it means much more then that.
Can you rejoice and yet not be over flowing with ‘happiness’?
From my understanding, to rejoice in God is more about having a deep centered appreciation, peace and awareness of God’s sovereign power in our lives. The sovereignty of God refers to God’s absolute rule over all creation and total control over all that happens. It’s an amazing concept, and one the human mind simply can’t fully comprehend. But this is what the Bible teaches of God (1Tim 6:15, Isaiah 46:10, Psalm 115:3). So to have faith in Him is to trust in that truth. His plans are not frustrated by our plans (Proverbs 19:21). God is in control of His creation and to reflect on this truth and draw close to Him brings about the most amazing deep centered peace!
We are told in Romans 8:28 that God works in all things for the good of those who are called according to His good purpose. That coupled with the previous verses that state we should not be anxious about anything but trust in God completely for our needs with a grateful and expectant heart grants us incredible reassurance. If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31).
For those who trust in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, God has promised that He IS working in all things for our good and according to His purpose. We don’t have to fret but know God is with us always. However we must never fall into the trap of having ‘happiness’ as our primary goal. God’s purpose for us is primarily to be holy, because He is holy (1Peter 1:15). Happiness will come and go, but our primary goal is to strive to honour and reflect our Lord more and more in our lives as we choose to follow Him.
It doesn’t take one long to realise that being a committed Christian is a tough life, and often doing what is right in obeying and following God doesn’t bring about a sudden offspring of happy feelings. We shouldn’t be surprised at this as more often then not, God refines us through trials. It’s through those tough times that our faith is tested (Psalm 66:8-12 119:71), and if we choose to trust in God, our faith grows as we humbly rely on Him for provision and His good plans to be worked out in our lives. The irony is then revealed as we realise that happiness is not what we are craving most in our hearts. Rather it is the joy of knowing God and serving Him.
So can we rejoice even though at times we may not be overflowing with happiness? Absolutely! That’s because our rejoicing is centered on God and not ourselves.