"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." ~ Philippians 4:4-5
Paul told the Philippian believers repeatedly to Rejoice. Why? What does that even mean, anyway? Okay, let's look it up.
(intransitive verb) To feel joy; be glad, take delight in.
(transitive verb) To make joyful; gladden.
So...it's a verb. What's the big deal? Well, for starters, it means it's not something that "happens to me." I am not a passive player in the process of awakening Joy. Just like the holiday season has to have a reason, so does joy. No, it doesn't depend on circumstances, on everything working out how we thought it should, on being in control, on having everyone think well of us, on anything that contributes to earthly "happiness." Joy is not an earthly phenomenon! Joy has a very definite, singular reason, and it's a reason I have to choose. The act of rejoicing is how I choose the reason that ignites Joy. I have to rejoice IN something.
Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
My spirit rejoices in God my Savior. (Luke 1:47)
Rejoice IN THE LORD. Always. D'ya wanna hear it again? REJOICE!!
"It is not so much the joy of the Lord we are seeking as the Lord of Joy Himself." ~ C. S. Lewis
Rejoicing occurs in a posture of worship. It's surrendering to the glory of His splendor, delighting in the power and beauty of His grace. Falling head over heels. In Love. Delighting, drowning in Love-light that drives away all fear, all darkness, all pride...all dissolving in importance compared to giving ourselves fully to Him.
"Everywhere Jesus went, joy tagged along." (Michael K. MacIntosh, The Tender Touch of God)
Joy is not found stranded by itself in a forgotten corner, nor prancing amid glitzy thrill rides at life's amusement park, but flowing from a Person. To know this Person is to know joy in all it's resounding stillness and shouting glory. In his presence in fullness of joy, and my cup runs over with its sweetness.
"Joy is merriment without frivolity, hilarity without raucousness, and mirth without cruelty. Joy is sportive without being rakish and festive without being cheap. Joy radiates animation, sparkle, and buoyancy. It is more than fun, yet it has fun. It expresses itself in laughter and elation, yet it draws from a deep spring that keeps flowing long after the laughter has died and the tears have come."(Sherwood Wirt, "Jesus, Man of Joy") Thirsty, I drink, and my heart is quenched at this fountain. Planted by streams of living water, my soul-leaves will not wither. (Jeremiah 17:7-8) I draw my nourishment from this vine of which love is the life-blood (John 15:1-17), and joy-sap runs, circulating nutrients that burst into fruit. Much fruit.
Fullness of joy!