I have been saying Philippians 4:4-8 to myself the last while and have had a second wave of a long coming revelation.
We are given free will to choose. Anything. I am thinking of joy in particular today. Like choosing what I eat gradually changes how I feel and look, choosing the thoughts and emotions I entertain gradually changes my thought patterns and how I view life itself. In fact, brain specialist Dr. Caroline Leaf teaches that what we choose with our will (mind) actually changes the brain itself, which in turn changes our DNA making our body either impermeable to disease, or susceptible to it.
Rejoice in the Lord always again I say, Rejoice! Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.
Scripture doesn’t let us off the Rejoicing hook when things look grim or when we are having a terrible, no good, rotten, I’m going to move to Australia kind of day. It simply says ALWAYS REJOICE.
In fact, when Israel faced huge obstacles that seemed insurmountable, they were called to worship and praise God before He acted on their behalf. Nothing has changed in 2000 and some years. We are still called to rejoice – especially when that is the last thing we feel like doing.
Yesterday, tired and not feeling great, I struggled to accomplish the simplest of tasks with a teething, gassy baby. Small problems, I know, but I decided to put my will to work for me rather than just giving into the frustration and impatience that welled up.
I began praising Jesus for the things He has blessed me with and His goodness and faithfulness to us. I declared my thankfulness and told myself I was choosing to rejoice, and slowly, the tide of frustration was overtaken by the sweet waves of thankfulness.
In Psalm 42:5, David instructs his soul to hope in God and praise Him for His help.
Psalm 35:9 says: “And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; It shall rejoice in His salvation.”
The will to choose is a gift God gave us as His children that brings fulfillment when we use our will to obey and glorify Him. It is only then we are free to engage in the abundant life Jesus told us He died for.
With the empowering grace of Christ, nothing is unchangeable. Depression, anxiety, anger, frustration, addiction and every other thing that robs us of the joy of the Lord bows before the will that chooses differently. One. Day. At. A Time.
Like stepping back and critically assessing a painting I am working on, I can asses and replace harmful emotions seeking to command my soul, and choose what brings life. Its not something I can do on my own – as always, I need the Holy Spirit to show me what is good and choose what it true!
May you choose to rejoice today in whatever situation you find yourself.