“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4, ESV)
We are almost there. Today is the last day of Lent. We have been preparing for this moment for the last 40 days. Tomorrow is Easter. Easter is the day we celebrate the resurrection. It is a day that is marked with joy and celebration. But this joy is not to be reserved for one day of the year. Jesus is alive every day.
The Apostle Paul tells us to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. The most remarkable thing about this verse was that Paul wrote this verse from prison. The prisons of the ancient world were terrible places to be. There are few worse places where Paul might have found himself. But even in these terrible conditions, Paul says: “Rejoice!”
Joy is a mindset. It is more than an emotion. Happiness is an emotion. Happiness is based on circumstances. Joy is not. I can be unhappy and still have joy. Joy is a supreme confidence that comes from God no matter what circumstance I might face.
If all I ever pursued was what made me happy, I would live a miserable life. The things that are good for me are not necessarily what makes me happy in a given moment. The pursuit of fleeting happiness will rob me of lasting joy. Discipline does not make me happy. But there is joy that is derived from living a disciplined life.
I am certain the cross did not make Jesus happy. But we are told that it was for the JOY set before him, that he endured the cross (see Hebrews 12:2). He was not living for happiness, but living for joy. The joy was salvation for you and me and eternity together with him.
Surprised by Joy
The story of Easter is such a great story because it is so unexpected. The women that come to the tomb did not discover what they thought they would see. They expected to find a dead bodied hidden in a cave. What they discovered was that Jesus alive. It was more than they could have hoped or imagined.
This is the point. God is full of surprises. A life in Christ is filled with unexpected surprises that bring amazing joy. We never know the doors that God will open up and the stones we will roll away when a life is lived in faith.
I leave you with the the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:14. It is my prayer for you:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14–19, ESV)
May you experience greater things in God to be filled with immeasurable Easter joy!
- How would you describe the difference between happiness and joy?
- Where do you find joy? How do you make your aim joy rather than happiness?
- How do you share joy with others?
- Celebrate the resurrection! It is our hope and joy.