For many reasons as we are living in the world, we are assaulted with sadness, depression, and anxiety. Therefore the direct scriptural imperative to rejoice is needed but also challenging. Philippians 4:4-9 provides insight into the subject.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (4:4)
Focus on the world around us or on our problem usually does not generate joy, rather the opposite. Our connection with the Lord Jesus and willingness to follow his example are vital for rejoicing and fighting these crippling emotions. Focus on the Lord produces joy and peace. Jesus experienced the same negative feelings and effectively combated them. He will help us as we seek his help.
Come to Me, all who are weary [loss of strength, endurance, vigor] and heavy-laden [weighed down with burdens, oppressed], and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle [meek] and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Jesus was always meek and humble to God his Father. He will help us also to be meek (receptive to God) and humble (dependent on God) wherein we will find joy and peace.
Philippians 4:5 - Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
Gentleness is a mild, moderate, peaceful, kind, and patient disposition. It is the opposite of a harsh, pushy, up-tight, rough, and controlling nature. It is a fruit of the spirit that those connected to the Lord can evidence. See Proverbs 15:1; James 3:17 and 18; 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 3:2.
“The Lord [Jesus] is near.” The word “near” can be of time or place. Of the 31 occurrences of this Greek word eggus, the context easily helps the reader to understand if it is time or place. The only occurrence where it can be either or both ways is here in Philippians. Jesus lives within us according to John 14:18-23, so he is as near as can be all of the time. See Hebrews 13:5 and 6; Philippians 4:11-13. The time of his return is near according to James 5:8 and 9; 1 Peter 4:7; Hebrews 10:37; and Revelation 22:20. If the Lord dwells in us by the holy spirit and his return is near, why freak out and get anxious about anything? Whatever the challenge before us, it is not a big deal in view of the nearness of our Lord. We are to change our perspective so that we can rejoice and be gentle. Stop focusing on the pimple and look at the rest of the face. This too will pass. Jesus is coming back! With the help of our Lord, we can develop the disciplined skills not to react to circumstances or situations. As we rejoice in the Lord, gentleness is much easier to manifest. When we are sad, depressed, or anxious, the tendency to be harsh can exacerbate.
Philippians 4:6 and 7 - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We must refuse anxiety and depression by praying and deliberately focusing on thankfulness.
Philippians 4:8 and 9 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
We have the God-given ability to control our minds and think about the things of God rather than that which fosters sadness, anxiety, and depression.