I was reading Proverbs this morning and a verse popped out at me.
15:15 says, “All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.”
Why it stuck with me has to do with my recent diabetes diagnosis… feasting isn’t an option.
A couple of weeks ago, I started a sermon series on the book of Philippians.
It has been great to learn and talk about joy.
It is one of the most glaring characteristics of the Christian life that is seemingly missing from most of our lives.
The Bible promises a cheerful heart to the follower of Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 15:15 says that “a merry heart has a continual feast,”
All through the Psalms we are encouraged to rejoice in God.
Psalm 16:11 tells us that “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
There are countless other passages that speak about rejoicing in the Lord.
Yet so many believers walk around and act as though they’ve been baptized in lemon juice.
They are always down about something.
Yet the apostle Paul, in the worst circumstances imaginable, said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
He was in prison when he wrote these words.
His experience then would have been considered abusive by today’s prison standards.
In spite of the suffering he experienced, his approach and attitude raised him above the pain.
In those words, he was effectively saying, “Look, if I can rejoice where I am, then you definitely can rejoice where you are.”
Anyone can rejoice when things are going reasonably well.
But when you are facing adversity or hardship or sickness, and you still rejoice, then you are obeying God.
Joy is about who and whose we are not where we are and what we are going through.
Look at the words of Habakkuk 3:17–18: “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
Habakkuk didn’t say he would rejoice in his circumstances; he said he would rejoice in the Lord.
That is like saying, “Even when the car has been repossessed, there are unpaid bills piled up on the kitchen counter, and everyone in the family is sick, I’m still going to rejoice in the Lord.”
It is seeing beyond the circumstances to the trusting the One who holds our lives in His loving hands.
When we allow circumstances to govern our joy, what are we forgetting?
We forget God and His character…
The reality is, God is still on the throne.
The truth is, God still loves us.
And finally His Word declares that He can work all things together for good to those who love Him.
He has also promised that He will never leave or forsake us.
So what is the result???
We can rejoice.
If you are experiencing struggles with life, keep your eyes focused on Christ.
His presence gives us assurance and peace to walk through the “valley of the shadow of death” with confidence.