«Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind» (Philippians 2:2).
TODAY WE WILL BEGIN a series of five reflections based on I Thessalonians 5: 16—22, which reads as follows: (l) «Rejoice always,» (2) «pray continually,» (3) «give thanks in all circumstances,» (4) «test them all,» and (5) «reject every kind of evil.» Let’s start with the first part: «Rejoice always» (NIV)
Being constantly cheerful seems impossible. However, its a request from God, and He would never ask us to do anything that isn’t within our capabilities. Our concept of joy is what makes it seem impossible. When we understand joy as an emotion that’s based on pleasure, of course its an unattainable request. However, joy goes beyond that.
The joy to which God refers is the state we reach when we live in harmony with Him, with ourselves, and with our neighbors. It’s unrelated to the circumstances around us. Joy is like a plant that is tended daily with care and eagerness. It takes a firm decision to subtract the negative and add the positive; to move from egoism to altruism. The soil for cultivating joy is within you and me, as well as in our relationships with our family, friends, and those who come into contact with us daily.
Start by being happy with yourself, with who you are, with what you do, and with what you have. If any of these aspects of your life can be improved, dare to do so: dream about what’s possible and do something. On the other hand, joy isn’t lived alone; as you are experiencing it, you’ll encounter people who are coming, and others who are leaving, and so many who are here to stay. Maybe you expect those who stay to leave, and those who leave to stay. By accepting that this isn’t the case, you open the door to mental flexibility, which is a basic principle to being permanently happy. Then it will be possible for you to make the apostles request your own: «Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!» (Philippians 4:4).
Cultivate your joy by cooperating with God’s will; get excited about challenges; see the good that is in you and in others; develop a cheerful disposition; add flavor to the unsavory, be cautious but not afraid. The world is full of joys; the secret is in knowing how to identify them.