It's easy to be depressed. Come to think of it, most people I talk to are not what I would call happy people. In fact, if what many friends have told me is true, I'm not usually a happy person. At a recent taekwondo event, a fellow teen told me that he had put his training on hold for a while since his girlfriend had left him, and he'd spent the next two weeks high on drugs. Life can be hard, and it can be depressing!
So why are some people so joyful even when life is hard? There are some people I know who are happy all the time, and I always finish talking to them thinking, "What's the matter with you? Why are you so happy?!"
Psalm 97: 1 begins in a familiar way for those who read the Psalms frequently. David talks about rejoicing in God quite often, and here is no exception. "The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof."
To me, this is much easier said than done. I'm usually in a good mood myself, but that doesn't mean I'm necessarily a happy person. I've been told I look pretty angry just ordering at a restaurant! I have one particular friend who urges me frequently to smile more often, and I always respond with, "I smile when I see something to smile about!"
However, David here offers us something to smile about. It's one thing for me to tell you don't worry and be happy; it's quite another to give you good reason to be happy. Here, David doesn't stop by simply saying, "Hey, cheer up!" He gives us a good reason to be able to rejoice.
"The Lord reigneth..." Doesn't that phrase just give you a moment of peace in your heart? He reigns! He's not in heaven running around trying to put out all the fires on earth; He is reigning! He's in charge of things, and He is in perfect control of all matters on earth.
This is our joy. Our joy, as Christians, is not found in good behavior, good ideas, good motivation, or good plans. It is instead found in a Person. It's found the bleeding, naked, torn man hanging on a cross. Our joy is found in Person who is in control, and whose sovereignty rules every facet of our lives.
David finishes the verse with a call to all nations (far islands and the whole earth) to rejoice because of God's sovereignty. To me, this verse gives me a peace. When I look around the world, it's easy to see persecution. It's easy to see orphans. It's easy to see dictators, wars, disasters, and the like.
But it's not so easy to see God in the shadows. So often we forget His involvement on earth, and pray and live as if God were an uninvolved Being removed from His creation. Instead, outlined over and over in Scripture is the concept that mighty God is instead directly involved in both things that happen here on earth and in each of our lives directly. He reigns!
This leads me to take a moment to think about the absolute enormity of the idea of the giving of His Holy Spirit to each of us. He not only is directly involved in the big things on earth, but in the small, everyday lives of small, everyday people. God, our omnipotent, omniscient God, is interested in having a relationship with people on earth, not just the world leaders and rulers, but with those of us who are swamped with school and stressed by work. That's grace!
The purpose of this post is two fold. One, I hope when we look at this verse, the idea of God's sovereign hand ruling earth gives us a measure of comfort as we look at the world around us. We may not understand it all, but I don't have to. My Father does. Secondly, I hope this verse once again makes us look at the enormity of God's grace, that He, the ruler and Creator of the universe, would stoop to speak to and die for His Creation. The King Reigns!
Our response to that should be fairly natural. If I fully trust God, and I know God is in control, then joy would be the natural result, would it not? Sure, there are days we'll be depressed and just mopey (like I am today), but the overwhelming emotion of our lives should be joy, joy in who God is and what He's done. Joy that He is in control. Joy that I can call the ruler of the universe Father. Joy that He cares what happens to me. Joy that He is always with me. Joy that He will never, no matter what, leave me. Joy that God is directly involved with my life. Joy that God is indeed God!