Listen to what Paul wrote when he was sitting in a prison cell with a death sentence hanging over him, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” I Thessalonians 5:16 says, “Rejoice always.” Joy is a serious spiritual discipline. The discipline of joy eventually defines our reality – meaning when we systematically rejoice and give thanks in our circumstances, our reality changes to have our focus on the Sovereign, all powerful God instead of ourselves. Jesus said He gives us His joy and desires that our joy would be complete. He wants us to kick up our heels, laugh and play – live!
C.S. Lewis writes, “Joy is an acceleration in the rhythm of celestial experience.” God’s desire is to have His joy in us and for that joy to be total. Those who don’t know how to rejoice don’t know how to really live. The discipline of joy is the holy habit of celebration. It’s a discipline because true joy is purposefully deciding to rejoice in good and challenging situations. Joy is the practice of lifting our eyes from our concerns and troubles to lift our eyes and set them on things above. It’s training ourselves, in the midst of all that might be wrong, to see heaven.
It’s so easy to get exhausted and overwhelmed but God wants us to live joyfully! Sometimes it seems hard to be joyful when the weight of the world comes crashing in but remember what joy is…it’s glimpsing heaven. Joy is glancing at what God is preparing for us. Systematically practice the holy habit of joy and your outlook will change.
Look at an example from the Psalmist found in Psalm 13. This Psalm is a lament but ends with a proclamation of joy and song. This psalm was shaped from sadness and bone-tired weariness – it came from a person focusing on themselves. But somehow when the Psalmist gazed at God that action becomes a vehicle for joy and hope. This joyful praise is a holy habit of extreme faith.
It’s time to begin to practice the disciple of joy and let the party begin!