"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice."
~ Philippians 4:4, ESV
There is no time when the command to rejoice in the Lord is easy to obey. It is hard on bad days. It is harder on good days. But I have heard words like these many times:
"It is easy to rejoice in the Lord when things are going well, but when times are hard, we are tempted to lose our joy."
I have never found that statement to be true. I am constantly tempted to rejoice in everything but the Lord, and were it not for grace, would have hardly a moment in which to claim that I had been resting wholly and sweetly upon the "solid joys and lasting treasure none but Zion's children know."
Recently, I had a good day - one of those days when everything actually does go right. I was pretty happy with the day and my life in general as I walked out in the park that afternoon. But as I reviewed a piece of Scripture memory, I was convicted by the Holy Spirit of my failure to rejoice in the true goodness of the Lord.
Good days, if our hearts are right, are to help us rejoice in the Lord - thankful that He has given us a spot of brightness on our heavenly journey. But most of the time, we let them do just the opposite. We forget that we are journeying to heaven at all. We say, "God is sooo good!" simply because He has given me the stuff I wanted. If our good days are the base of our declaration of God's goodness, that declaration has a dark meaning underneath: that when God doesn't give me the stuff I wanted - when He just holds before me the promised inheritance of the resurrected Christ, while ripping from my hands everything else my life holds dear - He is actually not very good at all. This is not rejoicing in the Lord. To rejoice in the Lord is to put the conditions for our joy upon Him, and then, knowing that He does not change, to never cease to be glad.
Foolish children that we are - rejoicing in the Lord is hard on the best of days. Sometimes the rejoicing is easiest on the worst of days, when the sadness and failure of everything that frustrates makes the hope of the resurrection stand forth like a warm, bright lamp in a window on a cold, wet night. But we must not let a fortuitous flash light turn us from the light in the window. There is one solid foundation for unshakable joys: the crucified and risen Christ held in the arms of our faith, taking us to Heaven.
"So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you." ~ John 16:22 ESV