I spent much time last week meditating on Psalm 118 (and went on to draw it on our chalkboard at home), not because my heart is light and cheery, but because it isn't, at least not without a fight.
I'm reading this verse differently these days,
"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)
I'm no longer singing it VBS-style, clapping and delighting in the hype of all the feel-good vibes. I have certainly had days and seasons of carefree happiness and lightness of heart; but honestly, rejoicing has become much more than just an upbeat song or the collective ethos of happy summer campers. In the context of the entirety of Psalm 118, I'm hearing these words differently. I'm hearing a song that cries out, that pushes past fear and holds on to trust. I don't hear laughing (though there very well might have been); I hear heart-wrenching acknowledgement. Rejoicing has become a choice, a battle worth fighting for.
Why did the Psalmist in Psalm 118 say that he rejoices in this day that the Lord has made?
He rejoiced in this day because he could recall all of God's faithfulness yesterday...
5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. 6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? 7 The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
...because of who He is...
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. 21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 23 This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
And, from the other side of the Cross, we are able to understand the great grace and mercy bought for us by the shed blood of Christ. We have the privilege of knowing the Cornerstone, himself, and the salvation he provides. The marvelousness of the Lord's doing...is the sin he bore on the cross.
We can rejoice in today, not because of the promises this day holds; rather, we can rejoice in today because of what promises that day fulfilled.
Life is hard, friends. Perhaps your life has met very few challenges and heartaches. Perhaps you've rarely felt hurt, betrayal, loss, slander, loneliness, discouragement, or the fear of man. Or maybe you have...and you, too, must fight to REJOICE.
The truth is, rejoicing doesn't come naturally to me. Worrying does. Anger does. Fearing does. Because of Christ, I'm no longer a slave to what comes naturally.
Friend, this is the day that the Lord has made...we can rejoice and be glad in it! Not because no enemies stand in your way, no hardships threaten your comfort, no fear overtakes your heart. No...we can rejoice today because the Gospel is the ultimate answer for all of these realities, and has made us fit to walk through the gates of righteousness, and into THANKSGIVING.
Fight for the rejoicing today, because Christ has fought victoriously over you.
Because of grace,