Rejoice!

  • March 11, 2015
  • #8573

We are able to rejoice even when (or especially when) we suffer, because the joy of the Lord is our strength.

Rejoice!

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada talkin’ up the joy of the Lord!

And you know that verse well, I am sure; the one that says the joy of the Lord is our strength. Believe me, in this wheelchair living as long as I have with quadriplegia, I thrive on that promise, because physically I am a very weak person; I’m also pretty weak emotionally and spiritually. I am the least likely candidate to enjoy life in a wheelchair. And this is why I need God's strength big time. And where do I find His strength? It’s in His joy.

Now that's a word you also will read in Scripture. Mary rejoiced when the angel announced she would bear the Savior. Angels rejoiced in the sky over Bethlehem. Anna rejoiced when she recognized Jesus in the Temple. Even when Jesus had His earthly ministry, people rejoiced – oh, they were so happy to see lame men walk and deaf men hear. The women rejoiced as they raced from the empty tomb. Even the apostle Paul commanded, "Be joyful always."

But Jesus takes it a step further in Luke chapter 6, verse 23. There He is talking to His followers and telling them that they are blessed if they are hungry or weak; or if they are persecuted or in distress. And then He adds, "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven." Now, there are many places in scripture where rejoicing comes in response to obvious blessings like health, and the birth of sons; or a good harvest or freedom from oppression. But here, Jesus is telling us to "Leap for joy!" (and he adds an exclamation mark) leap for joy when we suffer. We are to not just rejoice, but leap for joy. Now this is no sedate and unemotional command. You can't be dignified and demure when you're exclaiming joy with an exclamation mark. In fact, scholars note that the word "rejoice" is best communicated with a jump-up-and-down, clenched fist, throw-your-head-back, and yell out loud, "Oh, joy!" This is the power-packed emotion behind the Lord's words.

Here’s my point: The people in Scripture were not plaster-of-paris saints who uttered their amazements in less-than-amazing tones. When they exclaimed surprise or excitement, you'd better believe they were bursting with joy. So when you are troubled or hurting or suffering or feeling rejection and you read the word “rejoice” in scripture, never read it without smiling. Remember, God's Word is alive and active, full of feeling and brimming with heartfelt emotion. And you have every reason to be happy when you are weak; for then the joy of the Lord is your strength – the joy that comes from contentment in Christ; from satisfaction that your Savior is your strength.

Oh, boy, and one day our joy will absolutely overtake us; it will sweep us away, literally. Isaiah chapter 35, verse 10 describes it so well when it says:

"We will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy is going to crown our heads. Gladness and joy (now here it comes) will overtake them." (Isaiah 35:10)

And here’s something even more amazing. You know in Scripture where it says that as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so God rejoices over you? Think about that in light of what I just shared, because it is absolutely awesome. There aren't enough adjectives to describe the wonder. God bursts with joy over you. He observes your obeying Him and His commands and He exclaims, "Oh, joy!" And he does it with a jump-up-and-down, clenched fist, and yelling out loud! And one day He will crown you with that same kind of joy everlasting.

© Joni and Friends

 

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