We must recognize that there is all the difference in the world bewteen
rejoicing and feeling happy. The Scripture tells us that we should
always rejoice. Take the lyrical Epistle of Paul to the Philippians
where he says: "Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice." He
goes on saying it. To rejoice is a command, yes, but here is all the
difference in the world between rejoicing and being happy. You cannot make
yourself happy, but you can make yourself rejoice, in the sense that you will
always rejoice in the Lord. Happiness is something within
ourselves, rejoicing is "in the Lord." How important it is then,
to draw the distinction between rejoicing in the Lord and feeling happy.
Take the fourth chapter of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. There
you will find that the great Apostle puts it all very plainly and clearly in
that series of extraordinary contrasts which he makes: "We are troubled on every
side (I don't think he felt very happy at that moment) yet not distressed," "we
are perplexed (he wasn't feeling happy at all at that point) but not in
despair," "persecuted but not forsaken," "cast down, but not destroyed" --
and so on. In other words, the Apostle does not suggest a kind of happy
person in the carnal sense, but he was still rejoicing. That is the
difference between the two conditions.
Your business and mine is not to stir up our feelings, it is to
believe. We are never told anywhere in the Scripture that we are
saved by our feelings; we are told that we are saved by believing.
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.' Never once are
feelings put in the primary position. Now this is something we can
do. I cannot make myself happy, but I can remind myself of my
belief. I can exhort myself to believe, I can address my soul as the
Psalmist did in Psalm 42: "Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why are thou
disquieted within me? Hope thou" ... believe thou, trust thou. That
is the way. And then our feelings will look after themselves.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
"To Know Joy"
The following is an excerpt from Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure (by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones) in the chapter "To Know Joy," which was the subject of staff devotions this morning.