"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! (Phil 4:4)
When I read this verse today something jumped out at me. It doesn't say FEEL like rejoicing and therefore rejoice. It doesn't say rejoice when everything is running smoothly, and our life is just the way we want it. It says "always" rejoice.
What does it mean to rejoice in the Lord?
Rejoice is an attitude of the heart. It means to delight in, to take pleasure in, to find joy in the Lord. It also means a heart that leans toward, or is inclined toward.
I just came home from a week in Cancun with my brother and sister-in-law. (I know, I'm sorry I couldn't bring you with me) I was battling a bad chest cold while I was there, but the sun and warm ocean, and especially the companionship overrode the way I was feeling. The whole time I was surrounded by couples on holiday and it made me really miss Bill. Coming home to a very quiet house was a bit of a jolt and I could feel myself leaning towards the blues.
Rejoicing in the Lord is a developed leaning. We always move in the direction in which we are leaning. When I lean towards the past I get sad. When I lean toward the NOW blessings of life in God--I keep moving forward.
When things are not as we wish them to be, do we lean towards our feelings (complaining, depression, anger, frustration), or is our spirit trained to lean towards God? It's natural to go the way we are leaning. What we focus on will determine the direction we go.
I was bumped up to first class on my flight home. That's never happened before and I was unaware of the blessings. After standing in line for over an hour the airline clerk said, "Oh, I'm sorry lady, you didn't have to wait in line you could have gone straight to priority." Argh. Then there was another long line for customs. People did NOT want to be there. I decided to lean towards joy--and it worked. I think I was the only goon in the crowd with a big smile on my face.
Paul continues: "Let your gentleness be know to all men. The Lord is at hand." (Phil 4:5) I'm seeing a progression here, could it be that rejoicing in the moment helps develop a gentleness of spirit? Epieikes is translated reasonableness. Gentleness is the ability to lean toward the will of another.
Romans 12:1 comes to mind: "Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
Our reasonable service . . . giving ourselves each day to Him with a leaning, rejoicing and gentle heart. This is the bedrock for an anxiety-free life.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." (Phil 4:6)
Child, let go of all those heavy weights and lean on Me. Let Me hoist you high on My very capable shoulders. I know the way. It pleases Me when you trust in My goodness and rejoice that your name in in the book of life. Standfast. Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to all men. This is precious in My sight.