Reflection #37 – I’ve Got The Joy

During our COVID-19 shutdown, Pastor Zekveld plans to provide a personal reflection from Tuesday through Friday.

I’ve Got The Joy

Remember when you used to sing, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart to stay?

What is joy? It’s the deep and settled happiness of your soul in God your Saviour, a soul-happiness which can’t be taken away from you, no matter how sad you are. It remains with you regardless of what’s happening in your life and world because it comes from knowing for sure that no matter what you face, you belong to Jesus Christ, and in Him all your sins are forgiven and you have eternal life.

Joy is the reason Paul and Silas could sing in prison. That’s why the apostles could rejoice when they were beaten up for following Jesus. (Acts 16:25, 5:41. 1 Peter 4:3) When we believe in Jesus, Jesus comes to live in us through His Holy Spirit, and His presence in us is our constant joy.

Do you know this joy way down in your heart which is there to stay? It’s different than the superficial happiness that depends on your circumstances, temporary glee that comes from having a good time or winning the lottery or having your day go smoothly.

Joy is the deep, lasting happiness of the soul whose hope is built on Jesus Christ.

The Bible not only speaks a lot about joy; it commands us to rejoice. “Rejoice in the Lord always,” the Bible commands. Then it adds, “Again I will say, rejoice.”(Philippians 4:4)

But what is rejoicing? Joy and rejoicing are not quite the same thing. Joy is a noun; rejoice is a verb. Joy is a thing; rejoice is an action. To rejoice means that you let the joy which lives deep in your heart shine out from your life all the time, in every situation. Don’t hide your joy in the Lord, but let that happiness of soul come out of your life so people can see your joy and be blessed.

Especially when darkness is close. Especially when frustration is rising. Especially when things aren’t going well for you.

That’s what the apostle Paul tells the Philippian church when he’s chained up in prison for his faith: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. (Philippians 4:4) Not only is Paul joyful himself, but from his prison cell, in the very heat of persecution, facing death, he even stirs others up to show their joy! (Matthew Henry)

But have you ever noticed when Paul commands the Philippian Christians to rejoice? When two ladies, Euodia and Syntyche, were fighting in the church; when people were tempted to react harshly; and when anxiety was overtaking their lives. Right in the middle of that set of problems, Paul sets down this clear command to rejoice and, in case they didn’t get it the first time, he repeated it.

Rejoicing is a command for us not only when life is running smoothly, but especially when it isn’t, when life isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. It is the solution to petty grievances, holding grudges, and daily worries. 

But how does rejoicing help? Not by forgetting our problems but finding the right way through them. Tell Euodia and Syntyche to agree with one another in the Lord. (Philippians 4:2) These two Christian women must remember who they are in Christ, how Jesus has made them one family, and given them the same truth. Then in that joy of the Lord, they can work out their disagreement and come together.

If they let their joy come out in this circumstance and let it speak to them, they will find a way.

The same is true with fighting harsh over-reactions to difficult circumstances in your life. Paul first tells us to rejoice, then he says: “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5) By remembering the nearness of Christ, you stir up your joy and deep happiness of soul, and then your rising frustration and anger can give way to a spirit of gentleness.

This is also true in anxiety. Replace worry with rejoicing, says Paul. But how do you do that? Send up your anxieties to the Lord in prayer, and then you will find the peace of God that passes all understanding. You will rediscover joy when through prayer you remember who God is for you, and what he has given you in Christ. Let joy overwhelm your worries when worries try to smother your joy.

There is enough in God to furnish us with matter of joy in the worst circumstance on earth.

Matthew Henry

So, dear Christian, let’s remember always the joy we have in Christ. Let’s use that joy by letting it come out of our attitudes, eyes, mouths and lives in the form of rejoicing. May rejoicing fill every nook and cranny of our lives, every room in our homes, and every relationship in the Church. May it settle our fights, calm our frustrations and replace our worries.

Our sins are forgiven, Christ is our perfect righteousness, our citizenship is in heaven, and our lives are headed for eternal glory. Why should we allow anything to overwhelm our joy in him? Why should we allow any hardship to smother the deep and settled happiness of our souls in God our Saviour?