Our rejoicing is to be in the Lord and in all that the Lord brings to us.
It is easy to make rejoicing dependent upon our circumstances, but problems arise when our circumstances are a bummer. Ignoring pain to only see happy things can be insensitive to others. We are to weep with those who weep, not ignore their problems so we can maintain our happiness.
One of the best sentences in the Bible on the subject of rejoicing comes after a victory, but is actually a rebuke on the celebration of the victory. Not some stupid victory either, but a spiritual, ministry victory.
The disciples have just gotten back from exercising their newly given disciple powers and are thrilled with themselves that they can cast out demons. You can almost hear them tripping over each other to share the news with Jesus, “Hey! We’re awesome! Look at how awesome we are!”
Then Jesus says to them, “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”
Perhaps one of the worst things that can happen to you is success. I really don’t know if this is true for me or not, seeing as how I’ve never had any, but apparently success can be misleading. Jesus tells them not to rejoice in the success of their ministry!
This is contrary to most ministerial advice. We constantly write our newsletters about how many were saved at our VBS and reports on our missions trips about how we saved these people and got running water for those people and whatnot. You can’t make any money if you can’t show people what great things you do with their money.
Yet Jesus tells His disciples to cool it; if you want to rejoice, rejoice that you’re going to heaven.
Heaven is a forgotten truth. Oh sure, we bring it up on occasion, like funerals, but heaven has very little to do with our doctrine or teaching. Our lives reflect this lack of aim.
Heaven is the source of our rejoicing, not anything that happens on this earth. Heaven is our source and hope of joy, it is for the joy set before us that we endure the pain, just like Jesus did for us.
Heaven is our rejoicing; there is no other place of joy.