Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again - rejoice!
I think sometimes I read Paul’s words and think: “Oh, that would be nice to do that.” But consider where he is in his life when he says this... in prison. Um, I’ve never been in prison. I’ve never even been to a prison. Why can’t I take his instructions to heart every single day. They are instructions certainly born out of personal experience.
I must not reserve rejoicing for just when I’m in the mood. I can’t imagine feeling like rejoicing from a prison cel. I know I would not. I get grouchy from the flu or a lousy news article; I’m pretty sure my response to unjust incarceration would not be that of joy.
But thank God Paul experimented on himself. He chose to take time out from his situation to reflect on the goodness of God and found that it changed his heart regardless of his surroundings. And THEN he took the time to write letters to encourage present and future Believers to do the same.
This is a good practice. In a hospital, at a graveside, before a job interview, at the desk going over monthly bills - take a second and reflect on things for which I am truly thankful. It’s the perfect time to do that. I do it automatically when things are going swimmingly, I just need to choose to do it the times as well. That is how I will always be full of joy.
I thank you for your servant, Paul, who experimented with joy. And the only reason we find that it works is because the Source of our joy, which is YOU of course, is so faithful and good. And there’s not reason not to celebrate that all the time regardless of my circumstances. Help me not to fall into the trap of waiting till I feel joy. YOU are my joy and I love you and thank you with all my heart. Amen.