Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Come before His presence with singing.
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
Sometimes, we wake up and the day stretched out before us looks bright and cheery. Psalms like this one can be spoken or sung easily enough on such days. Other times, the day ahead looks dark...and that day may fall on the heels of many others before it that were filled with trials. But this Psalm, and many other passages, do not give qualifiers like "serve the Lord with gladness when you are having a Disneyland sort of day". He is God. Period. He made us. Period. He is good. Period. His mercy IS everlasting. Even on the hard days. Even in the midst of the trial.
Is that harsh? No, it is loving. He tenderly reminds us that this is not our home; that the glory that awaits us is not worthy to be compared to the sufferings of the moment (Rom 8); that we can count it all joy by His grace when we face various trials because He is using it to make us more like Jesus (James 1), and because He is always with us (Hebrews 13:5), and most importantly that HE HIMSELF IS OUR JOY, and that our joy in Him is our strength (Neh 8:10, Ps. 28).
Last night, I finished reading A Lifetime of Wisdom, Embracing the Way God Heals You, by Joni Eareckson Tada. In it, she illustrates many "rubies hard won" over the course of her life as a paraplegic. She has faced hard days, and shines! I highly recommend the book.
She points us the Jesus over and over, the One we can trust in our darkest days. The apostle Paul tells us to note such people, and to imitate them. I know I need to. On my dark days, I am still far too prone to whine, or to allow fears to overtake me. Maybe you are too. There are many mentors in life and in books, and my Mom used to tell me that when the student is ready to learn, the teacher will appear. I want to learn. I want to grow in serving the Lord with gladness ALL the time. Wanna join me?