Repetition is a common literary device used by poets and authors to draw emphasis to something in particular. I’ll say that again…
When a writer uses a word or phrase more than once, especially in close proximity to each other, we should be attentive to what they have to say. For example when Paul writes “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4), my thought is that rejoicing is something of great importance!
Fun fact: the bible mentions the word ‘rejoice’ and ‘joy’ over 300 times, which is why some have described the Christian life as one marked with joy. But have you ever tried to make yourself feel an emotion? Namely, have you ever tried to feel joy when all you feel is sorrow, stress, anxiety?
Our heart and emotions are difficult to understand; small things such as the weather can have an impact on how we feel. Yet God throughout His word exhorts us to feel joy. So how do we do this? I think our joy is reliant upon our attention being fixed on the right thing, or the right Person. We typically feel good when our external circumstances are going well, which is understandable; God intends for us to enjoy the good gifts He gives us. But when everything is seemingly going wrong, our joy is snatched away from us.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, just look at David throughout the Psalms. A man who experienced his own family betray him, was chased out from his own land, lost a child, carried the weight of his sin heavily on his shoulders…the list goes on. Yet he still exclaimed;
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:5)
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.” (Psalm 138:7-8)
“Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” (Psalm 62:2).
David knew that his hope would be best placed in trusting God. David knew that his hope in the One who wouldn’t let him down would sustain him through his troubles. The writer of Hebrews calls this hope an anchor of the soul; and we receive this immovable anchor through the Holy Spirit reminding us that God will never leave us or forsake us. I think it’s important to note that joy doesn’t necessarily mean you will feel happy. I’m sure David wasn’t smiling from ear to ear when soldiers were seeking to kill him. But I do believe joy can be a feeling of peace during troubled times, which is given to us through God’s love and assurance.
Everyone in life goes through some sort of hardship, whether forgettable or life-changing. But when we realise that we can put our hope in Jesus, who died so that our joy may be complete (John 15:11), we can join the Psalmist in saying, “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8)