Oh! What Joy!

Sherri Shackel-Dorren, Volunteer Writer, Wheaton | March 5, 2024

Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.
Psalm 149:2-4

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 
Nehemiah 8:10

When was the last time you had a consuming, full-body, dizzying celebration? It’s not something we experience often in our culture, but when we do, we never forget it. My alma mater recently won the National Championship in college football. Maize and blue confetti rained from the sky, covering a stadium of over 100,00 people. There was cheering, hugging, dancing, and weeping from the sheer joy of not only one game but from 26 years of struggle for this title. (I’m still basking in the joy of it.) When the White Sox won the World Series in 2005 and when the Cubs won the same in 2016, the entire city of Chicago was flooded with fans, bands, singing and dancing. This is the type of celebration we see in Psalm 149. And why are the Israelites consumed with joy? The answer may surprise you: “…because the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.”

The Israelites lived in a world steeped in pain, grief, loss, temptation, and struggle, just as we do. And maybe that’s why this sort of celebration is so hard to come by. But that’s also why it is so needed. When we celebrate God’s love for us and us for Him, we defy all the forces of darkness and embrace the reality of Jesus Christ’s victory now and forever. God’s joy is our strength. Earthly victories are wonderful. They are life-giving and satisfying, but even the most glorious fades over time. As children of God, we are invited to step into the celebration of the ultimate victory that never ends. You are God’s beloved child. He will never leave you or forsake you. He is faithful and will complete the good work He has begun in you. And no matter what comes, He can use every wonderful or awful thing to convince you that He is enough, and so are you. Our suffering is never wasted. God loves you and delights in you.

A.W. Tozer wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Our thoughts of God deeply impact our thoughts of ourselves as well. Do you ever take time to wonder at how deeply and completely God loves you? Have you made time to consider that God quite literally enjoys you? We cannot fully grasp the extravagant love of the Lord, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, He will grow us in knowing beyond the knowledge that we are completely loved and cared for if we will only make time to ask Him.

Next Steps

Ask the Lord to convince you more deeply of his delight in and care for you as you meditate on these verses:

  • “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” (John 15:9)
  • “He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.” (Psalm 18:19, NLT)