ODJ: Insisting on Joy

October 16, 2016 

READ: Psalm 47:1-4 

Shout to God with joyful praise! (v.1).

In 2015, a country in the Middle East elected its first women to public office. In fact, in the first electoral cycle in which women appeared on the ballot, 17 were elected! I listened to an interview of a woman who had won a seat on her local council, and she exuded ecstatic joy. She acknowledged how difficult life can be for women in her country, but this didn’t diminish her celebration. Many more reforms are needed, but all people should revel in this historic transition. After years of exclusion from the political process, women have now seen the door open a bit with the possibility of something better ahead.

It can be easy on occasions like this to be cynical about all the changes yet to be achieved and all the wrongs yet to be made right. I know I often struggle to embrace hope or joy in a world where justice seems so far away. It’s good for us to hear the psalmist’s instructions: “Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise!” (Psalm 47:1). These words are more than mere suggestion—they’re a command.

We embrace joy not because we’ve turned a blind eye to the manifestations of injustice or because we cover our ears and whistle past the ruin threatening to overwhelm us. Rather, we embrace joy because God “is the great King of all the earth” (v.2). Evil and chaos don’t rule; God does. Death and sorrow don’t write the final lines to the story; God does.

Because the “Lord Most High is awesome” (v.2), our entire life is a celebration of joy. We wait, with hope and prayers, for the day when God will make all things new. And until that hope is fulfilled, we watch for God to act. And as an act of faith and trust, we insist on joy.

—Winn Collier

365-day plan: Acts 7:1-29

Read Isaiah 9:3. Ponder the imagery he uses to describe the people’s joy. What does this imagery express to you? 
What robs you of joy? What can cause you to be cynical and spurn it? What would it look like for you to insist on joy this week?