4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (NIV)
A life lived by emotion is a life destined for destruction. Our emotions rise up in us without our choosing. And our natural inclination is to align our behavior with what we feel without ever taking a moment to evaluate if what we feel is actually true. This is key to taking hold of our emotions.
We can’t always decide what we will feel, but we can choose what emotions we allow to remain in us. And we can choose to feel differently if we know how.
In our passage today, we are taught to rejoice in the Lord always. By choice, we are commanded to feel joy toward the Lord continually. The implication is that we are to take hold of our own emotions to rid ourselves of those that are not true and helpful and fill ourselves with emotions based on truth.
The prefix ‘re’ in the word ‘rejoice’ indicates a repetition, of doing something again. To rejoice in the Lord, often we must first look backward at what gave us joy in the past. We bring it to our minds and celebrate again what God did then. This gives our minds the opportunity to remember the stress felt before the miracle, the anxiety before God moved on our behalf. Celebrating the past gives us hope for the future. Though we may ‘feel’ as if our whole life is going to Hell in a handbasket, we can remember when we felt like that before but also remember how God intervened. What we were afraid of did not happen. Or if it did, the destruction we expected never materialized.
When emotions boil up in you full of fear, anger, anxiety, or sadness, slow down long enough to ask yourself if there is evidence beyond question that proves what you feel is true or not. If the evidence is not there, let the emotion leave you. If what you feel is true, slow down to discover what you have already decided this will mean for your future to determine what you are fearful of. Then, rejoice in how God has delivered you in the past and how He is able to do it again.
Prayer: Lord, help me to slow down, evaluate what is true about what I feel, and remind me of how You intervened on my behalf in other times so I might rejoice and find hope.