Have you read Paul's letter to the Philippians? It is the most joyful book in the Bible! Paul uses the Greek words for joy and rejoicing sixteen times in only 104 verses. "Rejoice in the Lord always," he urges at one point. "I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4). What is interesting is that Paul wrote this "epistle of joy" from a dingy Roman prison, where you'd expect anything by joy! So how was Paul so joyful?
Paul's joy resulted from his faith in Christ, his confidence in God's sovereignty, and his sense of purpose in serving the Lord and advancing the gospel. How can we be similarly joyful? Follow Paul's example.
One, cultivate a relationship with God. Every choice we have made (and will make) requires a strong relationship with Jesus. When we get to know Jesus well, he will give us a deeper, purer, and sweeter gladness than anything this world offers. That's why the Psalmist sang: "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!" (Psalm 34:8). We also develop confidence in Jesus. Consequently, worry and anxiety fade away, making a place for joy.
Two, focus on gratitude: When we intentionally focus on the blessings in our lives and cultivate a spirit of gratitude, we can experience greater joy. We can practice gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal, expressing thanks to God and others, or simply reflecting on the good things in our lives. If you think you don't have much to be grateful for, think again! The mere fact we are saved is reason to be profoundly grateful! This was one of the main reasons Paul was joyful! He knew that no matter what happened to him on earth, his future was secure in heaven!
Three, find meaning and purpose in life! How do we determine our purpose for living? Since God created us, he would obviously have some answers for us. One purpose is to serve him, best accomplished by serving others. We can find tremendous joy in this, whether by volunteering time and resources to help God's people in need or by spreading the gospel message. See how much I love doing what I do and how joyful it makes me!
A few years ago, I read Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life." The book is divided into 40 short chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of finding one's purpose. It is based on Biblical principles, and the chapters cover topics such as understanding one's identity in Christ, developing a relationship with God, using one's gifts and talents to serve others, and finding meaning and purpose in life. It's a must-read for the believer, so pick up a copy if you don't already have one.
So, let's choose to be a joyful people today! Remember: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4)