Finding Joy

Psalm 42: 5        NIV

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.

This week we are continuing our journey through the psalms with this passage from Psalm 42. Since you seem to be enjoying the psalms, we will continue to do one every Monday.

This psalm is one sad lament and yet, is there one amongst us who has not felt equally forlorn at some point in life? The psalmist had a revelation, though, one which buoyed him even at his lowest points. He knew that a time of praise was coming, a time to thank God for rescuing him from this desperate place and time. Though the shadows darkened his doorway, he knew that light was coming and that the light would overshadow even the darkest dread. From that point of knowing we can shout, “Hallelujah!” Even when situations seem threatening, even in the midst of turmoil, we shout praises to the Father knowing that He is present and will lift us and set us high on a mountaintop.

God is worthy of the praise but what is thrilling about offering praise even when your soul is downcast is that the praise itself has power. It begins to lift your soul and brighten the horizon. Sometimes it is all we need to break the binding darkness. When we lift our eyes and fix them on Jesus, the flood of light fills the space. Darkness must flee in the presence of the light. It is the easiest and most natural thing in the world to keep looking at the trouble which is oppressing your soul. However, we are not of the world. You are of God little children and it is upon Him that you should cast your gaze. Looking at the glory of the Father who loves you more than life, shines joy and hope into our innermost being. We only need become as accomplished as this dear psalmist at recognizing the loving kindness and radiant power of a Lord who is always willing to be our rescuer.

Let not your heart be troubled. Do not give into the worry and fear. Sing your praise to the Father confident that He has your back and is with you always. Sing your way clear of trouble. Shout away your sorrows. Give thanks knowing your savior is near. Put your hope in God and let your joy be renewed.

But . . ..

Psalm 13: 6               Tree of Life

But I trust in Your lovingkindness, my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to Adonai, because He has been good to me.

How could I choose any verse other than this one after yesterday’s passage? The first part of the psalm details David’s fear, worry and sorrow but as is so often the case, he does not allow himself to languish in anxiety.

The most important word in today’s verse may well be “but.” David tells of all the trouble. He momentarily dwells in the angst, BUT, he says, there is something else which speaks in the darkness. A light which casts out even the darkest shadow. Despite the circumstances, despite the fear and emotional trauma, God is seated on His throne and is well and able to cast His saving radiance on even our deepest gloom.

David knew that God’s lovingkindness trumps all. It even trumps our unworthiness, poor prayers, lack of prayers, heathen attitudes and every other failure. David was able to trust the Lord because he understood love. David had an enviable revelation that love compels God. It will not let Him rest. The Lord’s salvation reaches into the darkness giving us every reason to rejoice. He saves us from every situation, every worry, every fear. David would not allow himself to meditate on the problems. He shifted gears into trust and rejoicing. This was a purposeful act, one which ultimately catapulted him into song. Yes, there are problems out there. Sure, challenges arise but shall we focus our attention on them or remind ourselves that God’s lovingkindness is trustworthy? Shall we fix our eyes on the circumstances or on Jesus? These are not rhetorical questions. We must, like David, make a definitive decision. How shall we color the fabric of our lives, with the music of praise or with despair? Lift up your eyes, my beloved. See the great and glorious there upon your own horizon. Love is beckoning even as it answers your most deep-seeded worries. Let your heart be light for you Father, your real Father, has healing, love and joy in His wings.

Believers?

Psalm 107: 6

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He delivered them out of their distresses.

As the infamous Joan Rivers used to say, “Can we talk?” Between you and me, we are distressed from time to time, are we not? You can be honest with me. I know that you, like me, hurt and are troubled. We keep a brave face on but truly there are times we just have nothing left to give anyone. Those we have tried to help, those we have prayed for are the very authors of our distress. They take our obedience to our Lord and abuse us with it.

 
Do you think that our mothers and fathers of the faith did not also feel as we do; did not suffer the same severe doubt, sorrow and anguish that we do? Sure they did, so how did they become giants of faith and loyal to the Father?
Sooner or later we all have to make a decision. We have to choose whether or not we are going to believe God or not. Even more significantly, are we going to believe the Word? If I cannot believe the Word, if I have not made a solid decision to believe what it says then where shall I go for comfort? As for me, I have decided that God is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23: 19). Has He said it and will He not do it?

Today’s verse says that they cried out to the Lord and He delivered them. So, do we believe this or do we not? Do we believe that if we cry out to the Lord He will deliver us? Are we believers or not?

Relief

Isaiah 61: 3         NIV

. . . a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

Recently I listened to a CD titled Revival in Belfast by Robin Mark. The first track on the album is Garments of Praise. The lyric says, “Put on the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness”. I have listened to this CD many, many times but this time the lyric struck me as never before. I wish to share with you the revelation that God gave me.

Isaiah 61 is Jesus’ commission; it is what God called him to do. This segment of Isaiah 61 is part of what God commissioned Jesus to do; to give us garments of praise in place of a spirit of despair. The New American Standard Bible reads, “a mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.” When we are in despair, Jesus’ commission kicks in to replace that despair with a garment of praise. God’s Word translation reads, “the oil of joy instead of tears of grief.” Jesus pours the oil of joy over us to replace our tears of grief. 

As I listened to the song Garments of Praise I realized that I could elect to put on the garment of praise instead of my sackcloth of despair. I can choose the oil of gladness instead of tears of grief. I am not saying that there are not times of grief in our lives. What I am saying is that Jesus has already provided a mantle of praise with which we can replace the spirit of fainting. I learned, however, that even though Jesus has already provided for this exchange, giving us the garment of praise in place of grief, it is I who must don the clothing which he has purchased for me. 

God is our strength, He is the joy and the lifter of our heads. However, we have to choose to put on the garment of praise. When we do, we find that the He lifts the grief. He will get you through the toughest times of life but you must use the tools He has given you. He has already given you the garment of praise for that day when despair encompasses you. I find that some people think God has let them down in their time of need but He is there saying, “Look, I have already provided. Put on your robe!!” It must cause Him great chagrin when people do not avail themselves of all of the gifts, weaponry and tools that He has provided. So, when you are sad, remember that God has already made a substitutionary allowance. Start to praise, begin to sing and worship, you will find your relief in the garment of praise.