"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice." -Philippians 4:4
(despite common belief, this it not a picture of me.)
As I am sure you have figured out from the title of this lesson, the verse, and the very happy picture at the top of this article, I will be talking about rejoicing. Why is it important for us to have joy? What even is joy? These are some of the things that I will be addressing in this article.
First I will be talking about the differences between joy and happiness. A lot of people think that there is no difference, but really there is. Happiness is feeling you get when you go shopping and find a super cute dress that's in your price range and when you go to try it on it magically fits (it actually happened to me once. I was SO EXCITED!) Happiness is an emotion. Happiness, however wonderful, is only temporary. Happiness comes from things of the world that make us feel good about ourselves. Joy, however, is not an emotion as much as a choice. When you are joyous, it doesn't matter what happens in your life, you will be full of joy. Acts 16 where it talks about Paul and Silas singing hymns to God while in prison is a perfect example of this. In Philippians 4:12 talks about how Paul was content in all things, and this is the same man who we see in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 was beaten, stoned shipwrecked, in constant danger from men, without food, and imprisoned who knows how many times. In fact, Philippians 4 was written while Paul was in prison. Paul is a wonderful example of how happiness and joy are completely different. Happiness is temporary, joy is a choice.
Now I'll be talking about why we should have joy. I mean, there must be a logical reason for why we have this commandment. Not only does God genuinely love us and want us to rejoice, but, how are we going to convert others to Christianity if we're always pessimistic about life? How are we going to show others the glory of how wonderful God is, if we don't show them that joy throughout our daily lives? We are to rejoice because of what God has done for us. It doesn't matter what situation we are in, whether it be physical or emotional, God sent His son to die so that we can have eternal life. What's there not to be happy about?
One last thing that I'm going to be talking about is that there is nothing wrong with being sad or angry or in distress. John 11:35, the shortest verse in the Bible, says that Jesus wept. Like I said, joy isn't an emotion. Joy is an over-all state of mind. Joy is recognizing what has been done for us and even though we may be upset, we can understand that our life is far more than what we have here on earth and we can rejoice in that.
Are you a joyous person? Do you rejoice in the Lord? Today I would like to encourage you all to consider if you are this kind of person, and if not then change things around so you can be. It's as simple as looking at the bigger picture, or the brighter side of things. The big picture is that no matter what happens, as long as we remain faithful, we will be with God in heaven for eternity. I'd like to ask you today to consider this no matter what situation you are in.