Far too many of God’s people wake up with frowns. Their
glasses half-empty, they can always find, like grim meteorologists, the dark
cloud overshadowing every silver lining. “Sad hearts have peculiar skill in discovering
the most disadvantageous point of view from which to gaze upon a trial,”
Charles Spurgeon once wrote;
“if there were only one slough in the world, they would soon be up to their
necks in it.”
too often, I have been one of those people. A lot of this “look on the dark
side” mentality comes from my natural melancholy. I have been told that I have
an artist’s temperament, given to dramatic swings from the high to the low and
back again. Some of it is a response to deep disappointments that have come my
way, as a means of self-protection. If I assume the worst, I figure I won’t be
hurt as much. Wherever it comes from, the truth is, this gloomy outlook doesn’t
allow me to fully realize the main reason I have been created: “toglorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.”
But as I have increasingly sought with God’s help to better glorify
and enjoy Him, I have begun meditating over a verse you’ll find in the middle
of your Bible: Psalm 118:24.
is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
of the Hebrew Scriptures suggest that this Psalm was given to the nation to celebrate God’s deliverance and blessing
and was to be recited on a special festival day (“This is the day….”). The
author (we don’t know who) recounts the Lord’s repeated rescues and calls the
people to grateful worship. A repeated theme in the Psalm is “His steadfast
love endures forever.” The Lord’s steadfast love is based on His covenant with
Israel and will never be taken away. The Psalm is likely post-exilic, meaning
it was written after the Jews were brought back to the Promised Land from among
the nations and thus were able to worship again at the Temple in Jerusalem.
As I have ruminated on this verse, I have been struck by
some encouraging applications. Let’s look at them using the words in the ESV
This is the day. While Psalm 118 may have been
directed originally for a specific day in Israel’s liturgical calendar, it is
right and good for people of the gospel to employ its life-giving principles every day. The verse says we are to focus on today as Christians, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” Yet we are not
to be anxious for the future, for “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Our days will sometimes bring their share of pain and
disappointment, but God’s grace is big enough to cover yesterday, today, and
tomorrow. This is the day.
That the Lord. We serve the covenant-making and
keeping God—the Lord. He is not the clockwork God of Deism, the “unknown god” of paganism, the
unknowable Allah of Islam, or even the distant God mediated by innumerable
saints and the Roman hierarchy. No, the Lord is our Shepherd, our Creator, and
our Protector. The New Testament sheds even more glorious light. Our Lord is Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit, indwelling us and promising eternal life to all who
believe. Abraham was the friend of God. We are His children.
Has made. The One who created the heavens and the
earth, who calls all the stars by name, who created Adam from the dust, who
numbers all the hairs on our heads, and who knows when a sparrow falls to the
ground made this day. Today is no accident, whether it brings weal or
woe. God is in control. It was lavished on us in the same way the Lord sent the
ravens to provide bread and meat to his famished and depressed prophet. God made this day for us. Let us not waste His handiwork.
Let us rejoice. We are invited, not commanded,
to rejoice—encouraged to do that which brings us the most happiness and Him the
most honor. As John Piper has said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” The Christian
faith, like the Jewish faith before it, is not to be lived in isolation. We are
part of the body of Christ, where “if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” Joy is better when shared. With our spiritual
brothers and sisters, we “Rejoice with those who rejoice, [and] weep with those who weep.” Yes, each day may
bring trouble (perhaps much trouble), but there will always be something good
from the Lord’s hand over which to rejoice. Let us find it, and “rejoice always,” come what may.
be glad in it.
Our joy should affect our mood, at least sometimes. Joy is not mere theory. It
has practical implications—including spontaneous outbursts of gladness. Though
not everyone has an effervescent personality, we all can share our gladness. Those
who are glad can’t keep it to themselves. They exhibit cheerfulness, happiness,
and gratitude. Religion has been falsely accused of making people sour and
fearful. Yet those who are glad in their Lord practically glow with excitement.
As Psalm 34:5 says, “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall
never be ashamed.”
So, am I all the way there yet, exhibiting a life of joy and
gladness in each day that my loving Lord crafts for me? The honest answer is
“not yet,” but I do sense some halting steps in the right direction. And, with
His help, I plan to keep going, even when life tries to get me off track.
A final caveat: Please don’t count this approach to each day
as a meritorious work that you must do. Think of it as a gracious
invitation to feast with Him at a banquet. All we need to do is show up
hungry, waiting to be filled.
Our Lord’s ravens are ready to do just that—this day,
and every day.
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