This verse comes amid a long list of curses that God says will be on His people if they don't follow Him. But the crux of it seems to be WITH JOY AND GLADNESS. How often do we serve the Lord with half a heart and with our leftover time? With prayers in the bad times and forgetfulness during the good times? I know that sometimes (often) this is me and reflecting on that makes me very sad.
It makes me think of the verse that says the following: Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. -Romans 6:16-18
Some people think that not serving God means that we are free. But it's very clear: we aren't free without God. We are slaves to righteousness or slaves to sin. When we are slaves to sin, that is our lot-- some good times, some bad times, but overall, an empty life. So how thankful should we be that we have a different choice? A different master that we can serve? There will still be some good times and some bad times, but we won't have an empty life. We will be given a HOPE, a joyous hope, that we can live forever, serving God.
So when I come to my Father, I need to remember to have joy. Sometimes I feel weighed down with life and think that it would be so much easier if I wasn't a follower of God. NO! That attitude won't get me anywhere. All I need to do is reflect on the wonder of God so that I can have a joyful attitude rather than a half-hearted one. Life without God doesn't even compare.
I think about the parable of the prodigal son, and how his father ran to meet him, kissed him, and welcomed him back. That's OUR Father in heaven. THAT should make us joyful.
I think about the beauty of creation. The flowers, the stars, the trees, the earth. That's the world our God has given us. THAT should make us joyful.
I think about the wonderful hope that believers have. To live eternally, to live without sin or sadness or fear. To live forever, serving God, with all the followers of God. THAT should make us joyful.