“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
When I read this and other verses in the Bible connected with the word joy, I almost always contextualize this command as a charge for when we walk through difficult or challenging circumstances. Yet when we are told to rejoice always, the command would therefore include the times when we are filled with unbridled joy. When things are going well, or even great!
How about you? Does your heart naturally default to draw near to God when you are blessed with unbridled joy?
We may not be as inclined to consider our need for grace and mercy when things are going exceedingly well. I think our default is often to consider that we have somehow put ourselves into a position of unbridled joy by our own effort or as the reward for some particular effort we have done. For sure we often have a “Praise the Lord’ come from our mouth, but I am not so sure that we indeed draw near.
In a study on joy in the past year I found the following definition of biblical joy by Kay Warren particularly meaningful:
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
Think of times in your life when you were filled to overflowing with joy. Maybe when you received your letter of acceptance to veterinary school, or possibly a time in your family when there was cause for great celebration; a wedding, a birth, etc. Was your joy rooted in knowing Him as Lord and Savior and that He is at work in each and every detail of your life? Did you seek to draw near to Him for the grace and mercy to acknowledge His Lordship, love and presence? Do we recognize His need for mercy and grace when things are going well? For sure we need to as we must live in His mercy and grace at all times.
We will all have special times of unbridled joy in our lives. In those times let us consider how we might draw near. First, we must always give thanks and praise. This attitude helps us to refocus on Him as the source of our blessing and joy and in that process we are drawn to Him. Secondly, we should always consider how our response to such times speaks to those around us. Do the circumstances of our time of unbridled joy give testimony to Him or to our own ability to accomplishment? If we are purposed to draw near to Him in such time, others will see our heart and to draw near and will be challenged to draw near as well. Thirdly, when we draw near to Him we experience the fullness of the joy He has for us.
Let us draw near to him at all times, especially when we are in the midst of unbridled joy, and in doing so we will find a fullness of that joy that we would never have if we did not, as well as know the even fuller joy of His presence as we experience His mercy and grace.