Rejoicing Always

(from Graham Cooke's October Newsletter)

Living in Christ makes us vulnerable to laughter. Laughter is more than a choice; it’s a requirement for us that we be happy. God’s highest plan for our lives includes a desire for us to find, live in, and love the joy that is in Christ. God is good news! His love and presence is an absolute tonic for us. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full,” Jesus said in John 15:11.

Every time God speaks to us, or reveals more of His nature to us, joy is part of that equation. Beholding Him and becoming like Him is an invitation to party and celebrate with Him. Everything God says to us is designed to bring us into joy. Everything in the Kingdom of Heaven is about gladness, joy, happiness, and laughter. God wants to bring a smile to our faces.

God is joyful because He knows what’s coming next. He knows the final score. When you know the end from the beginning, you can’t help but laugh at all of evil’s schemes and tricks. They become irrelevant when you know that you win. There is a continuous joy in Christ that runs so deep that no one else can even touch it. But to access it, we need to learn how to rejoice in all things.

For me, joy is a safeguard. It’s a shield against the enemy. When the enemy comes, we can laugh in his face—because God laughs at him first.

I once had a dream where I was on a battlefield. We had just fought off the enemy, but we had lost a lot of good people. There weren’t many of us left; we were small and pitiful, to be honest. Every one of us was wounded. I myself had at least a dozen sword gashes on my arms. I was bleeding badly, and was absolutely exhausted.

Suddenly, a trumpet blew, and I saw another enemy army take the field in front of us. I looked around but saw no reinforcements for our battered side. The enemy was powering up. Their ranks were swelling with every passing moment. It was a hopeless fight, but our ragtag band of survivors gathered close together and got ready.

As I set my feet and gritted my teeth in preparation for the enemy’s charge, I noticed a man next to me was dressed as a restaurant waiter. Perfectly-pressed black trousers, a bowtie, a crisp, white shirt, and a white towel slung over his arm.

“What are you doing?” I asked incredulously.

“Would you like the melon or the soup?” he replied.

“What?” I asked.

“Melon or soup?” he said.

“How can you talk about food at a time like this?” I demanded.

The waiter ignored me and went from person to person, asking, “Melon or soup?”

“Are you mad?” I said. “Don’t you see what’s happening? Don’t you see the blood all over the ground? Don’t you see the enemy over there? How can you talk about lunch at a time like this?”

“Mmm-hmm,” he answered. “Melon or soup?”

I lost my temper completely. “Are you stupid or something?” I screamed. “You want to talk about food at a time like this?”

Suddenly, I woke up to find myself shouting, “Talk about food!” in my bedroom. In that instant, I received a powerful revelation, found in Psalm 23:5—“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

When we’re on the battlefield just trying to survive the next wave of the enemy, God is thinking about menus. He looks around and says, “What a great place for a picnic! We can have sausage rolls, meat pies, cheese sandwiches. This will be perfect.” He is so secure in who He is and in His power to defeat any enemy that He can feed us in the middle of the worst battle of our lives. And that confidence should be a source of pure joy in our lives.