Katie Snipes Lancaster
What should I do then?
I will pray with the spirit,
but I will pray with the mind also;
I will sing praise with the spirit,
but I will sing praise with the mind also.
1 Corinthians 14:15
A Look at Joy
The Bible is full of commands to “Rejoice!” which ought to interest our “Smile, be happy” generation. But unlike contemporary injunctions to look on the bright side, the biblical commands often appear in unexpected places. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is an example. Paul does not seem to be in a very good situation. We learn almost accidently —Paul certainly does not emphasize it—that he is in prison awaiting trial that could result in his death. He feels isolated from his colleagues and is deeply concerned (this he does emphasize) about the faithful preaching of the gospel during his captivity. Yet in this little letter to the Philippians the words joy and rejoice appear 14 times, culminating in the summary declaration. “Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, rejoice!” These verses bear the marks of Paul’s own personal experience with God. Though in a place of distress, he can be calm because the Lord is near. Whatever happens can only result in additional opportunities for him to enjoy (or extend) the reality of Christ’s presence. So he can say with perfect honesty that nothing need disturb him; he can be content whether he is well fed or hungry, has plenty or is in need. This is not simply the absence of concern, a kind of Greek apatheia or Eastern release from desire. The impetus to rejoice is a positive reality, which Paul describes as the peace of God which guards our minds in Christ Jesus.
(excerpted from “Rejoice Anyway” by William Dyrness, The Christian Century 1994)
God, give us a way to rejoice.
Lead us accidentally into joy.
Show us a path through distress
And mark our way with simplicity.
Be with us, O God.