March 5, 2008
Let Joy Invigorate You!
by Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk.com Senior Entertainment Editor
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Philippians 4:4, NIV
Have you ever used JOY? You know, it's that old-school dishwashing liquid that smells kind of fresh and fruity.
You don't soak your hands it in like "Madge" said to do with Palmolive (remember those commercials from the '70s?). And it's not marketed as the soap that "takes grease out of your way" (that would be Dawn ... say, do I know my detergents or what?). No, JOY is billed as the liquid that will "juice up your dishwashing routine and invigorate your senses."
It's odd, but I really did think about think about this kind of JOY and its claim recently when I was studying the book of Philippians. My commentary notes informed me Paul's letter to the church at Philippi is known as the "Joy Book" and is the most-quoted New Testament epistle. In fact, the word joy (or rejoice) is used 16 times throughout!
Most scholars believe that Paul wrote to the Philippians while under house arrest in Rome. He was chained to a Praetorium guard, the crème de la crème of the police force. They were some of the most influential personnel in the government (several Roman emperors were former members of this group).
In a situation like this, Paul could have focused on the negatives, clammed up and worried about his own welfare. But guess what happened? He was invigorated by the joy of the Lord. The Praetorium guards and those in Caesar's household heard Paul teach about the kingdom of God and many became Christians (Philippians 4:22). Because of Paul's example, other believers were encouraged and boldly proclaimed the Good News, too.
"I always pray with joy." "I will continue to rejoice." "I rejoice greatly in the Lord!" Joy... joy... and more joy. Okay, Paul. I get it. I need to have joy, no matter what.
And here's where my JOY thought comes in. How handy would it be to have a $1.79 bottle at the ready any time we needed to wash away the gunk in our lives? We could squirt a little here and there to "invigorate" and rid our lives of whatever is bringing us down and taking away our joy.
But that's not how life as a Christ follower works. We can't make our own joy. Or buy it on the household cleaning products aisle. Or find it in any person, place or thing here on earth.
Real, everlasting joy comes only from the Lord. He cancels out the sorrow in our lives and helps us to see what He has done for us and is still doing in and through our lives. That's when we experience great joy!
And that's what our Heavenly Father wants for you and me. His joy is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), and he invigorates our lives and helps us to find our meaning in Him.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Are you weary? Is your focus diverted by uncomfortable life circumstances? Don't know how you could ever find the joy in whatever bleak situation is facing you today? Ask God to help you see your life as he sees it and discover him as the source of true joy.