Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! . . . The Lord is near.
— Philippians 4:4-5
The end of April is a happy time at the college where I serve as a chaplain. Classes are finished, and final exams are complete! Suddenly stress that has been building for weeks is released, and we see smiling faces all around.
In all kinds of situations, release from stress can lead to smiles and joy and even rejoicing and celebration.
Would you be surprised to know that some variation of “Be happy” is one of the most common instructions to us in God’s Word? While a search of the Bible may not always turn up the word “happy,” when we add the instructions to be glad, to rejoice, and to be joyful, we realize that this command does occur quite often in Scripture. Even the catchy title of a song from a past era, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” is a reflection of this common theme in God’s Word.
What a remarkable blessing it is that God not only commands us to be joyful but also produces joy in us by his Spirit. The Spirit produces joy in the lives of his people not only when they are surrounded by “happy” circumstances. Even while chained in prison, Paul and Silas were able to sing with joy (see Acts 16:25-34). People who walk by the Spirit can find joy in all circumstances.
Holy Spirit, we thank you not only for calling us to rejoice in the Lord always, but also for producing that joy in our lives through your presence, in Jesus’ name! Amen.