Watching the news – yet another school shooting, serious concerns about pollution and species extinctions, economic uncertainty… I sometimes think the only way of coping with it, is by becoming immune to worrying about the world we live in, or ignoring the news altogether. Yet Psalm 33 starts of with an instruction to ‘sing joyfully’! True, David, who wrote the Psalm didn’t have News 24 to watch, but his world was, if anything, even less secure.
So what is there to sing about? How do you stay joyful when horrible things happen – personal things as well as the newsworthy? Only by getting to know, understand, and trust that God loves you with an unfailing love. Knowing that he sees everything that is going on in your life – the good and the bad, that he is there with you in it, and that he is still on the throne. We may still not understand why, but we will have grace to cope.
People often confuse joy and happiness. Happiness happens when things are going well. Joy is what you experience when you know God’s unfailing love, whatever happens.
It’s OK to be joyful when the news is grim. In fact, it’s a command. It’s OK to sing, in fact it’s a command to sing a new song, and to shout for joy! That is so hard to do when you don’t feel like being joyful. Sometimes it takes an act of discipline to choose to be joyful, when nothing going on around you agrees with that mindset. Do you think God doesn’t know that? I think it means all the more to him, that you’ve had to make a lot of effort to be joyful, to be obedient in this area. God knows what is best for us. Being miserable does not help the situation one little bit – you just suffer more. That’s why he commands us to be joyful, to sing, and to praise, even when you don’t feel like it!