Joy Even Now – Especially Now

Marti Thomas
Originally published on April 23, 2020

Joy Even Now – Especially Now

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!   Philippians 4:4

Really, Paul, rejoice when …
…a dangerous virus is spreading throughout the world?
…there isn’t enough money to pay the bills this month?
…loneliness threatens to overwhelm me?
…I’m stuck in my house for who knows how long?
…that thing God called me to do isn’t possible any longer?

I think it’s particularly appropriate that Paul wrote these words when he was imprisoned, probably lonely, and forced to rely on others for his support and sustenance.  He wrote these words when God’s calling to preach the gospel to the Gentiles didn’t seem possible any longer.  He wrote these words when his circumstances gave no reason for joy.  And yet, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!”  In his letter to the Philippians, Paul continually wrote that he was rejoicing; in fact, he used the words “rejoice” or “joy” thirteen times in this one book!  

How could Paul have so much joy in these circumstances?  How can we have that joy in our circumstances?  The things that gave Paul joy are the things that will give us joy if we let them.

Praying for others gave Paul joy. Philippians 1:4. Let’s pray more for one another.
Investing in others’ lives gave Paul joy. Philippians 4:1 Let’s reach out to one another.
Seeing Christ proclaimed gave Paul joy. Philippians 1:18 Let’s talk about Jesus more.
Others’ generosity gave Paul joy. Philippians 4:10 Let’s share our time, talents and treasure.

And most of all, the Lord gave Paul joy.  Philippians 3:1

Dennis often says, “God is the happiest being in the universe.”  We could use “joyful” just as well.  God is joyful because He delights in people – in us.  If joy seems like an alien concept to you right now:
Delight in other people. Pray for them, take a genuine interest in them, and rejoice in what God is doing in their lives.
Ask God to give you joy.  Pray like the father of the demon-possessed boy in Mark 9, “I do believe; help me in my unbelief!”
Read Philippians. I dare you to read it and come away without more joy.

We ought not say that we can have joy; we ought to say that we do have joy. The Spirit lives in us and fills us with the same joy that He has.

Marti Thomas

Note: If you are overwhelmed by anxiety or depression (or even guilt at reading this), consider talking to a mental health professional.