Rejoice by Rocky Fleming
“Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again I will say, rejoice!”
Philippians 4:4 (Amplified Bible)
I’m sure most of you will relate to times that your joy is not there. Sometimes it’s an obvious reason, and sometimes it’s not, and there seems to be no apparent reason. Either way, we want that joy back, don’t we? I found myself in just such a state. Since I had a heart attack and open-heart surgery five months ago, I’m told it’s likely the effect of it. Maybe so? Even so, I want that joy back. I started praying about it, asking that it would return. The Lord answered the prayer in such a way that I feel that I cannot hold to myself the secret He showed me for getting my joy back. In fact, I’ve been given a sacred responsibility to share it with you, for some of you are asking for the same thing. You want that joy back.
I wish that I could promise you that we can ride a joy cloud without it sinking to lower places. But the truth is, we cannot. There will be days and even weeks or longer that life crowds out our joy because of choices we made or those made for us. There will be unforeseen circumstances that shake our joy and challenge it. We live in a fallen, imperfect world and all mankind including ourselves are imperfect. That is the changing seas that we live in where there is smooth sailing one day and a tempest that blows us on shallow shoals the next. Expect it. But we don’t have to stay there, for where there is a challenge with what the ways of the world wants to do against us is, there is always also what the ever-present and ever-faithful God wants to do for us.
What is joy? There are many cute answers to the question such as Joy is God-made, verses happiness is man-made. Here’s another one. Happiness is circumstantial and joy is providential. I like this one. Man didn’t give joy to me, so man can’t take it away. But why are circumstances and mankind often contributing factors to our loss of joy, if that is all true? We need to understand the battlefield and a battle plan if we want to battle to get it back. I said battle, for that is ultimately what it becomes … a battle. It’s a spiritual battle, and spiritual battles require a higher power to win, and this is where God gave me insight on a battle plan and weapon, so to speak.
Last week I came to a place where I simply felt depleted of energy and enthusiasm. Worst yet, I had a spiritual malaise that had found its lodging and I hated it. I’m a fighter and I fought against it. But I wasn’t winning the fight. In fact, more sleep, more exercise, more time off, more prayer, more fishing and anything I could think of to jog that joy back wasn’t working. But I did do something critical. I got a few days away with the Lord to simply listen, in case He would speak to me. By myself in that time of solitude, I remained quiet before Him. When I felt it was time, I would speak and ask for my joy to return. But most of the time I prayed in silence, trusting that Holy Spirit was making intercession for me with words too deep for me to voice. One morning, very early, I had a strange feeling that my request to know what I was to do to have my joy returned was answered. It was an impression. In a way that I cannot describe with what I heard, or felt, or was impressed with, was the word “Rejoice.” Not knowing it at the time the connection that rejoice has with joy, I began journaling the message and the word while praying, “Lord, how are these two words connected?” Immediately I thought of the Israelite army and the battle plan given to Joshua by God. After marching around Jericho seven days with the seventh day marching seven times around Jericho, God told Joshua to do the following:
“Do not shout; do not even talk,” Joshua commanded. “Not a single word from any of you until I tell you to shout. Then shout!” Joshua 6:10 NLT
We know from Bible history that those walls came tumbling down after that shout. I feel the shout was a spiritual war cry. I feel it was a halleluiah that was raised up against the enemy of God’s people that day, and God won the battle. As my mind returned to my own battle, I felt the Lord was telling me that rejoicing is my own battle cry. It is my own hallelujah. It is the way to have the walls come down and my joy returned. Immediately I responded by rejoicing in the Lord. I still didn’t feel like it. Feelings would come later when joy returned. Rather it was a perspective that God is near, that He is on my side, and that He loves me. I rejoiced because of who He is and the many things He has shown to me about Himself. I rejoiced because He is sovereign, and He is teaching me something in this dry time that could not be learned in a different setting. I rejoiced for I knew my Savior was coming once again to lift me up and put me beside Him where my joy would overflow. Before joy returned, I knew it was coming. Throughout the day I rejoiced, and by the time the day was over my cup was running over with joy.
I feel that Jesus was teaching me that joy is a fruit of rejoicing. Rejoicing is an act of worship and perspective, and joy is a response from God allowing us to feel His delight. You see that is what joy really is. It is feeling God’s joy, and we know what scripture teaches:
And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10 NLT
I pray that this little blog will give some of you a renewal of your joy as you begin your own rejoicing. I’m including a great song that I think fits nicely with this blog. Listen closely to the words. It’s called appropriately Rejoice. Maybe it will start your battle in a right way.