Songs of Joy
1-3 It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,
when God returned Zion’s exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
we couldn’t believe our good fortune.
We were the talk of the nations—
“God was wonderful to them!”
God was wonderful to us;
we are one happy people.
4-6 And now, God, do it again—
bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair
will shout hurrahs at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts
will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.
As we count down the days to the Birth of Christ, we anticipate both the wonderful things to look forward to about the holiday, and we face down the difficult, hurtful, complicated things that can make it hard to “get into the Christmas spirit” or “feel the magic.” I love the way the Bible talks about joy, because it tells me that it’s made of sterner stuff than whatever I can hype myself up into feeling. This Psalm contains both a celebration of truly joyful, good times—the ones where you can say, “God was wonderful to me!”—and the acknowledgment that the writer isn’t in that same space of celebration currently.
When we feel stressed out, grumpy, anxious, and fearful, when the knots in our stomachs won’t unwind and we feel guilty for feeling this way when everyone else seems to be having a great time—what do we do? Does God care? Can He fix it? If he’s all about joy what do we do when we’re not feeling that?
The second half of this Psalm gives us the answer. When you can’t conjure up a shred of Christmas cheer, when it all just seems dark and gloomy, cry out to God. “Do it again! Restore me! Help!” The joy we so desperately desire in our lives doesn’t have a timeline. We can’t predict when it will come, anymore than we can force ourselves to feel it. But we can remember the good moments God has given to us in the past, and we can ask for them in our future. Above all, we can trust that we will one day come home laughing, with arms, hearts, and minds filled full of good things.
What fills you with joy?
What emotions are present within you in this holiday season?
Where do you see yourself in this Psalm?