“This is the day the Lord has made; let’s rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
Rejoicing is serious business for the Christian. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that joy “just happens.” We drift in and out of a lot of things in life, but joy should not be one of them. To the Christian, joy is an issue of obedience. We are commanded to pursue joy, to find joy, and to not settle for anything else. Rejoicing in the Lord, then, is not merely a suggestion or a tip for a better day; it’s an issue of obedience. So says the psalmist, and so says Paul in the New Testament:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).
Rejoicing is the end of this verse; that’s what we want to get to.
Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? But take a look at your schedule. Take a look at your agenda. Take a look at the host of things that simply must be done this day, consider how many of them are part of the regular routine of life, and it becomes more problematic. Rejoice in the paying of the bills? Rejoice in the next zoom meeting? Rejoice in the folding of the laundry or the making of the lunches? Maybe not.
Combine that with the fact that this day is happening now. Now in the midst of uncertainty. In the midst of anxiety. In the midst of global and economic upheaval. Much as we might want to rejoice, the days we are in make it difficult to do so. But like all issues of obedience, our rejoicing isn’t primarily about the will. It’s not just about deciding to rejoice, or waiting for the circumstances around us to make us rejoice, or trying as hard as we can to work up some rejoicing. Our joy is rooted in what we believe to be true about God, and therefore what we believe to be true about everything else. And that’s the link between the two halves of Psalm 118:24.
Our joy ought to be fueled by our faith.
In other words, our willingness to believe Part A of this verse leads to our practice of Part B of this verse. And that’s where we come to an exercise that might help to connect the two halves to each other.
The exercise is built on Part A – in the simple statement, “This is the day the Lord has made.” When you start to look a little deeper into those few words, you find some powerful truths that drive our rejoicing. Let’s do that together:
This is the day.
In Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo once remarked to Gandalf: “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” as he lamented the fact that he had lived to see the evil advancing from Mordor. Gandalf responded: “So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
This day. This one right here. In 2020. This is the day at hand, and it will do me no good to wish for another day. A different day. The day that someone else is having, or the day of another time. This is the day that I’ve been given. This day, full of the mundane and the ordinary, full of opportunity unexpected. This one, the one that’s beginning right now, is the day.
That the Lord has made.
Regardless of what this day holds, it is the day that the Lord has made. He is not some cosmic clockmaker who set the universe in motion and then stood apart, watching it tick away. He’s still in the business of making days, and He’s made this one for me. For us. And although we know very little of the potential ups or downs or highs or lows that this day holds, it is nevertheless the one made by the Lord. Because it is made by the Lord, I know that along with making it He has also given me the resources I need for it. I have the grace I need. The patience I require. The perseverance necessary. The discipline to do and work. Along with this day He’s made He has also given me His limitless supply which I take hold of by faith.
I will rejoice and be glad in it.
That’s why I can rejoice. It doesn’t mean everything today will make me happy; none of us are naive enough to believe that. Surely things today will make me frustrated or sad, angry or disappointed. But this is the day. The one that the Lord has made. And because I know something of the nature and character of God, I can rejoice in this day, the one He has made for us, and be glad in it, trusting that though it might not feel like it at the time, everything that happens today has been filtered through the loving hand of a loving God.
So I wonder if you would make this exercise a part of your morning. Perhaps a part of many mornings to come. To pause and remind yourself first of all, that this is the day. This one. Right here.
That the Lord has made. He has given you this specific day, and He has done so on purpose. And let those truths then drive rejoicing.
For rejoicing in the day at hand means embracing the sovereign work of a loving God. Otherwise, I’ll be wishing for another day. Feeling bombarded by seemingly random circumstances. And I’ll be far from rejoicing when my head hits the pillow tonight.