I know that many Christians have trouble with Paul's instructions to "rejoice in the Lord always" (Philippians 4:4). Honestly, how can we be expected to "rejoice" when there are so many bad things happening in our lives and in our world? Paul can't have been serious could he? Think about this, the word "rejoice" could be translated just as easily as "to be full of cheer," or simply, "be happy," and in our world, it seems this is a much desired, but little accomplished state of life.
Recently I asked in a sermon, "When is the last time you have been happy as a Christian?" "When is the last time you trusted God that much, to enjoy just being one of his children?"
The problem as I perceive it for many of us, is that we are more in interested in solving problems (real or perceived) than in trusting God to handle them for us. We worry that there are or will be things that we cannot handle or straighten out on our own. We worry about our families, our jobs, our health, and our churches. I don't imagine you are much different that me and in my mind I ask questions like these: "What if we don't get it right?" "What if we make the wrong decisions?" "What if I'm not able to defend "the truth" of God's Word?" "What if I don't know the right words to say?" "What if I am not in the right place in this world?" "Could there be another job I could be or should be in?" "Am I the right example of a husband, father, brother, friend?"
You see, most of those questions are about "me", with little reliance upon God. And, when we worry about all of those things, try to answer all of the questions ourselves, we really won't feel very happy or being "rejoicing" Christians.
It comes down to the question of how much we really trust God or how much we really believe he cares for us. I believe that God is able to put us where we need to be, when we need to be there and will guide us to deal with the questions of life, if we trust him enough. Until we learn to do that we can't truly be happy or "rejoice in the Lord".
If you can, open your bible and read the whole passage of Matthew 6:25-34. In this passage Jesus talks to his followers about worry and the care of God for each of us. In verses 33-34 he sums up what he is trying to say with these words, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Someone paraphrased these verses like this, "Learn to trust in God. Don't worry about things you can do anything about. When you do that, you'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes".
There was a silly little song which was popular a few years ago that simply repeated the words, "Don't worry, be happy" to a catchy little tune. Again I ask the questions, "When is the last time you have been happy as a Christian?" "When is the last time you trusted God that much, to enjoy just being one of his children?"
The only way you can do that is to REALLY believe that God is in control of your life and this world. To believe (whether you like it or not) that you are where you need to be to serve God's purpose, not your own. You don't have to understand it, just belief it and live your life trusting that God knows what he is doing whether you do or not. In other words, "Don't worry… Be happy" (rejoice in the Lord).