Finally . . . rejoice in the Lord! . . . it is a safeguard for you. (Philippians 3:1)
Take another look at joy, Paul says. What is it we haven’t understood? What makes us ho-hum it away, treating it like a good thing, if it happens?
If it happens? Paul would stare at us, boiling with near anger that we missed the point. For Paul understood that Joy had grabbed him on the Damascus Road, turned him around, and filled him with an unquenchable thirst what went deeper than good circumstances and stayed longer than a good feeling.
So let’s review:
Joy is a Person, not a feeling. (Phil. 3:10)
Joy is what God does in us, not what happens to us. (Phil. 1:6)
Joy is part of the fruit God grows when His roots grow deep and nourished. (Phil. 1:9)
Joy is the union of heaven and earth through Christ that gives us hope when what happens on earth can’t. (Phil 2:1-2)
Joy is always found in God’s will. (Phil. 2:13)
Living these truths brings joy as our strength, center, safeguard, and inheritance. (Neh. 8:10, Phil. 4:6-7)
However, let’s get one thing clear. Joy doesn’t make bad things feel good. We still experience loss, grief, setbacks, and sadness. Joy mitigates the devastation. Joy settles us inside while everything outside is falling apart. Joy reminds us of the ever-present realities of God and His grace and mercy and power at work within us. I’m going to say it again, within us. It is too easy to expect God’s resources to fix everything outside of us. But God always starts in us, because that’s where He lives.
Paul throws the gauntlet down. This is our do or die moment. Rejoice IN the Lord; not just about Him. In Christ is where we must live and find our being. In Christ is all Joy. In Christ, the one Who loves us with unfailing love. Settle there. Let every truth of that Joy steep to full flavor and drink deep.
Joy isn’t just an occasional special gift God gives for good behavior. Joy should be our address.
Why would we ever think of living anywhere else?