Joy for the Downtrodden?


I’m a crier.  I weep.  I lament.  It’s who I am.  It’s my temperament.

Phat laughs.  He giggles.  He jokes.  It’s who he is.  It’s his temperament.

I’ve finally come to realize it’s OK.  It is the uniqueness of God’s plan for us.  For the world. 

It takes all kinds. 

In my younger years I thought this temperament a curse.  I see “need” so desperately, and feel others’ hurts almost physically, it is difficult sometimes to be happy.  And then to have the command, “Rejoice in the Lord, always, and again I say, rejoice!” interpretted as “Be happy!” . . . well, you can see the “judgment” I felt from the “happy people.”

Joy . . . the second virtue given as the fruit of the Spirit. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  ~Galatians 5:23

If I have the Spirit within, then I have joy.  I can rejoice.  I can be glad.

What causes gladness?  It’s not based upon our circumstances.  When Paul wrote to “rejoice always,” he was in prison, chained to a guard 24/7.  My circumstances, the happenings of my life, are not the reasons for rejoicing.  My deep abiding friendship with the God of the Universe makes me glad.

Here are some of the ways we can “rejoice” as believers:

~being in the Lord.  Philippians 3:1; 4:4

~rejoicing in His incarnation.  Luke 1:14

~in His power which is available to us.  Luke 13:17

~in His presence with the Father.   John 14:28

~in His presence with His disciples.  John 16:22; 20:20

~in His ultimate triumph!  John 8:56

~in hearing the gospel.  Acts 13:48

~in your salvation.  Acts 8:39

~in receiving the Lord.  Luke 19:6

~in your enrollment in Heaven.  Luke 10:20

~in your liberty in Christ.  Acts 15:31

~in your glorious hope.  Romans 12:12; Romans 5:2; Revelations 19:7

~in the prospect of reward.  Matthew 5:12

~in the obedience and godly conduct of fellow believers.  Romans 16:19, 2Corinthians 7:7,9; 13:9; Colossians 2:5; 1Thessalonians 3:9; 2John 1:4; 3John 1:3

~in the proclamation of Christ.  Philippians 1:18

~in the gospel harvest.  John 4:36

~in suffering with Christ.  Acts 5:41; 1Peter 4:13

~for suffering in the cause of the gospel.  2Corinthians 13:9 (1st part); Philippians 2:17 (1st part); Colossians 1:24

~in persecutions, trials and afflictions.  Matthew 5:12; Luke 6:23; 2 Corinthians 6:10

~in the manifestation of grace.  Acts 11:23

~in meeting with fellow believers.  1Corinthians 16:17;  Philippians 2:28

~in receiving tokens of love and fellowship.  Philippians 4:10

~in the “rejoicing” of others.  Romans 12:15; 2Corinthians 7:13

~in learning of the well-being of others.  2Corinthians 7:16

Many, many reasons are given for rejoicing!  I can choose to have joy in suffering, trials, tribulations and persecutions.  Joy is much more than happiness.  Even a brokenhearted, downtrodden person can rejoice IN. THE. LORD.

The LORD is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.
~Psalm 28:7

Scripture references taken from Vine’s Expository Dictionary (rejoice — chairo)


16 responses »

  1. 😀 Yep yep yep! Love it!

    You know, God gave me something for my husband once. My husband is one to have difficulty seeing the positive, and is also a doer who always feels compelled to ‘stay ahead of the 8-ball.’ As such, it’s easy for him to think that the concept of joy, peace, and contentment are things which mean ‘settle, halt, don’t be productive.’ We were talking about this one day, and God showed me two things that Paul said: “I press toward the mark for the high calling in Christ Jesus,” and “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, to be content.” This showed me that Paul himself had a tendency to be like that. Why? The first remark flowed out of who he saw himself to be. In the second, however, he said, “I have learned.” Contentment was a learned characteristic of Paul’s. He didn’t come by it naturally. I think it helps to know that great men and women of God struggle(d) with the same things we do, even as we see the manifest anointing of God on their lives. It gives us hope that we can overcome and be used of God as well.

    Love you, sister! Great choices! And thanks for being transparent. 🙂

  2. Oh, sweet Michelle, I needed to read this today … I love encouragement for a path I’m already on but sometimes just don’t feel like being on 🙂

    BTW, my mom’s family was not a happy one, but my dad’s family didn’t know how to do anything without laughter. She’s a crier, he’s a laugher. She learned how to enjoy life through them and he saw how to be more compassionate through hers. It all evens out in the end. 🙂

  3. Hey, Annie! I’ve wondered that about Paul. Thanks for the reminder. I do tend to consider myself a “Jeremiah” — blessed with a burden. Love you sister! 🙂

    Good evening, Sara. “She learned how to enjoy life through them and he saw how to be more compassionate through hers.” Exactly! It’s good. I’m glad this encouraged you today! 😉

    Thank you, Papa. I think I’m in good company. 😉 Love you!

  4. sis – this is probably one of my favorite posts of yours. perfect in every way. today has been a low day for me and i have been thinking of the joy that fills me. its funny, the moment i “feel” like my body is gettin the best of me – my “happiness” suffers. but i knew today, my joy was only becoming stronger. it was just very evident for some reason. like God was telling me, worry not – your joy, significance, and confidence are in ME…not this world or your body.

    He is is so sweet on us!

  5. I hate crying. I didn’t cry for years and years until God opened me up. Then I cried for a year solid, I think. Now I guess I’m more normal. I cry sometimes, I laugh other times. I have a mix of a melancholy personality with a extra dose of a sense of humor. But when I’m depressed things just don’t seem funny anymore, and it is more difficult to rejoice.

    Of course, it isn’t always a feeling… sometimes it is a choice.

    I’d like to find joy again. Until then, I’ll make the choice to rejoice anyway.


  6. Thank you, TammyJo! “God was telling me, worry not – your joy, significance, and confidence are in ME…not this world or your body.” I have to keep this perspective and some days it’s so hard. But yeah, it’s not about what we DO as much as about WHOSE we are. In Him we can rejoice.

    Hey, Heidi! You know, most creative people have a melancholy side. It is hard to laugh when we’re depressed. I agree. I find I can be praising my Lord, rejoicing in Him, with tears streaming down my face. And the tears are not “happy” tears, I am deeply burdened but still full of joy in Him, in knowing He is in control and WILL work all things for His glory. You’re still in my prayers, Heidi.

    Love All Y’all! 🙂

  7. Well, you know, Michelle…I kind of had no choice BUT to get it!

    Or it would get me.

    Yeah. Big time.

    And I wasn’t going to allow that.

    I’m still not going to allow that, actually.

    Got that going for me.

  8. Michelle, I love this post. I do. I also like your comment back to Heidi. And lastly, I have made a mental note to ensure that the two of us are never trapped in an elevator for an extended period of time… I would be trying to out-lament every lament… 😉

    Thank you for reminding me of the joy I have that remains despite any pain thrown at me from this world.

  9. Michelle,
    Love you even though laments are hard for me to take (easy to read, though) and leave me wondering how to encourage those lamenting.
    So, like Job’s friends, I’ll sit by the (Potomac) river of Babylon and lament here with you.
    – Sam

  10. Hey, Ric. I’ve been feeling your pain through your writings recently. I understand you’re hurting. I won’t try and “out-lament” you. 😉 He is good to us, even when it seems He allows some terrible things to occur. At least we can know, He is in control. Our life has felt “out of control” as the result of a harsh judgment given to us in a court of law. It’s been very difficult to be happy in the fallout. But I do know, He has a plan that is bigger and greater than mine. I’ll rest in that knowledge and rejoice in being His. You’ve been on my mind recently, and as a result, I’ve been praying for you. Just so’s you know! 😉

    Thanks, Sam. Sometimes it’s best just to sit. It seemed when Job’s friends spoke, they were “miserable comforters.” I’ve never found you to be that way, though. Love you. 😉

    Thank you, Bad, for that insightful encouragement. It’s good to see you here. 😉

  11. Hello Sweet Friend!!!

    I’m around, just not “around” y/k? Life is crazy hectic with Jake gone. *sigh* I hope to get back to a chat with you soon….as soon as I get my bearrings here! 😯

    ♥ you!

  12. Christ showed perfect emotion all the time in every situation.

    My wife will tell you I wear my emotions on my sleve.

    I cry tears of Joy, and tears of sarrow easyly…. But I love to laugh and make people laugh.

    Isn’t it great that in all the emotions of this life, we are free to praise him through all of them. He knows our heart better then anyone and we are free to express our hearts to him.

    Love you Sister.

  13. Hey, Brandy! I totally understand needing to take time with Jake gone. I’ll catch you when you’ve had him back! ♥ U2!

    I love that He understands my heart, Carl, especially when others can misinterpret it so. Love you brother! Hope your week isn’t too hectic.

  14. Hi Michelle!

    This post really blessed me! I, too need to constantly be reminded of all of the reasons for me to be joyful, as I tend to see the glass half empty most of the time!

    I have given you an award! Stop by and read all about it!


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