“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
As you read the above scripture, you are in the beginning, middle, or end of a day. Does Psalm 118:24 apply? Of course it does.
You may object that you have had a hard day, or you are anticipating a hard day. Things are not going the way you planned. In fact, this day may be tougher than the previous few. The road ahead looks equally hard. Some people, even some Christians, would say it’s unrealistic to rejoice in a difficult day.
You can rejoice in this day because joy is not a product of circumstances. It is a gift from God, a part of His grace. Remember, joy is the second fruit of the Spirit, a product of His mysterious breath in your life. I do not think Paul listed the fruit of the Spirit in any particular order, but to have joy right after love says something about how accessible and important it is for Christians. Joy is your birthright, a part of what it means to bear the image of our joyful God.
Also remember that nothing has happened to you today that God did not anticipate and provide for. He has given you, or He will give you, the resources you need for this day. That is part of the promise of the Lord’s Prayer when you pray, “give me this day my daily bread.” He will provide, and nothing catches Him off guard. Trust Him and rejoice in this day. If your day is hard look for an insight, a phone call or other encounter with a friend who brings an encouraging word. Look for a reminder of God’s perfection and beauty and remember that those things are eternal, not the bad things that have spoiled your day.
Last week I heard a Christian lady speak about her faith and how God had helped her during a very difficult time in her life. She had been a runner, one of those strange folks who genuinely love to run. Then she contracted spinal meningitis that left her dependent on a cane. She would never run again.
At one point in her story she held up her cane. It was decorated with flowers. An otherwise mechanical and harsh reminder of a lifestyle lost, became a more tender reminder of a deeper grace learned. She said her husband was responsible for the decorations. With each new season he came up with a new theme.
She said she did not believe God gave her the disease, and that she didn’t subscribe to the bad theology that all the terrors of life come from His hand. I was grateful to hear that. Then she added simply, “I am now handicapped. And that’s all right. It’s all right.” That little phrase contains a lot of very good theology. In her love for the Lord and in her confidence of His abiding presence she found something they can’t teach you in seminary. She learned what real joy is. A flower-decorated cane serves as a reminder that God is in the business of transforming the worst of life into an occasion to look more deeply into His grace. That cane is a visible pledge of her determination to rejoice each day.
Josh Hamilton, outfielder for the Texas Rangers, battled drug addiction for many years. His habit threatened his life and career. He gave his life to Christ, and has been sober and in recovery for several years but knows that he can never let down his guard. In a visit several years ago with then-president Bush to discuss a anti-drug abuse program, the former president offered this encouragement: “There are some good days and there are some bad days, but every day is a joyous day.”
I offer you the same encouragement. From one perspective today will be good for some of you and bad for others. But for all of you in Christ it will be a joyous day.
Dr. Terry Ellis
May 8, 2011