How often do you face life’s circumstances where being happy doesn’t seem a possibility at all? How often do you face people who constantly keep on poking you into a state of sadness? How often your own dreams and ambitions cause you to remain disappointed? It is absolutely foolish to teach or preach that life will be enjoyable as long as you have faith in Jesus to sustain you. Faith in Jesus is all you need, but sorrows, grief and pain are part and parcel of life!
I am not writing to convince you, that you will experience pain, but to tell you how you should respond when pain comes! Like it or not, all of us have to face sorrows one day or the other. All of us will face tribulation as long as we are true followers of Jesus Christ! Life will not always be a bed of roses for you! But when it comes, will you get disappointed with God or will you be joyful in your tribulation?
Paul says this at a time when he himself is going through tremendous persecution in the prison, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” (Phil 4:4) The natural emotional response to pain is always sadness and grief, if rejoicing is an emotional response, then Paul is asking us to fake it. In other words rejoicing in the Lord is not an emotional act rooted in your soul, but of your spirit. You need to remember that Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, cultivated into your character by the Holy Spirit. (Gal 5:22)
For a Christian, Joy in not peripheral but central. It is deep rooted in his spirit. Jesus while predicting the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, said it this way “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:22) What Jesus meant is that for a brief period after Jesus leaves, the disciples will not have joy, but then when the Holy Spirit is poured out on them, Joy will return too! And no one will take that joy out of you. In other words, Joy is not absence of pain, or an unnatural emotional response but the presence of God the Holy Spirit within us.
Jesus said, Seek first the Kingdom of God (Matt 6:33), and the Kingdom of God is all about righteousness, peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost! (Romans 14:17) So, one of thing we need to genuinely seek and pursue all our lives is the Joy in the Holy Ghost! That is what Paul meant when he said, Rejoice in the Lord! He meant pursue His Joy and His peace! Jesus introduced the Holy Spirit to his disciples as The Comforter. Who can be a better companion during the painful situations in your life, other than THE COMFORTER?
When you face painful situations that destroy your happiness, heavy trials that kill your joy and unanswerable questions that destroy your peace, invite the Holy Spirit into your life! When He comes in, Joy is inevitable!