Singing As We Plant #9
Take time to read the entire Psalm, and then come back and read the following verses again.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
– Psalm 9:1-2
It has been said that perhaps I have something of a “glass half empty” disposition. The truth is that I really want to be an optimist, but I feel like I have lived too long to be able to do it with a clear conscience. This can be really inhibiting to a spiritual life, though, especially as the Bible talks a lot about joy, and praise and gladness. If you are like me – something of an “Eeyore” type character – then it can be difficult to feel joyful or glad or prone to praise most of the time. If your current circumstances are hard because of suffering of some sort then it is even tougher, and as a result, large parts of the Bible can seem annoying because we don’t feel like doing what it calls us to do.
“Praise him?? Are you kidding? I don’t feel like doing that.”
I have come to realize that this Eeyore view of the world lies at the root of most of our unhappiness. A continual and permanent dissatisfaction isn’t good for the heart. Eeyore can never believe the best about the future because he doesn’t have an accurate view of how things have gone in the past. It also means that he can never be fully joyful in the present.
As we enter Psalm 9, David’s situation hasn’t changed. He is still overwhelmed by his enemies. His pure emotions haven’t changed, either. The rest of the Psalm is going to continue to be a lament and a plea. But there is a definite change in tone. He decided to praise; he decided to believe. He looked back at God’s faithfulness towards him and his heart exploded with praise, gladness and rejoicing.
We tend to think that a change in our external circumstances will eventually lead to joy. But David didn’t wait, he made a choice. “I will praise you, and with all my heart. I won’t hold back. I will tell everyone I can about how good you are and the incredible things you have done.”
If you find yourself stuck in pessimism, look back on what God has done and who he is.
Here is my advice to you. If you find yourself stuck in pessimism or ever so slightly addicted to melancholy, then look back on what God has done and who he is. Then praise, regardless of what you are currently facing. This isn’t a pretense or a denial of what we are going through, but it is a pursuit of joy in the midst of our experience that requires a shift.
When I consider what Christ has done for me, whatever I am facing looks small. Every follower of Christ has much to be thankful for. He has already transferred you from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of the Son (Col 1:13). He has already displayed his love for you (John 3:16; 15:13). He has given you a new name (Rev 3:12-13). He has given you an inheritance that no one can take from you (Eph 1:11). He has already defeated your enemy and is currently leading the church in a victory procession (Col 2:15).
Don’t always be an Eeyore. The news is good. Rejoice.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
– Philippians 4:4-9
Singing As We Plant
There is nothing quite like church-planting to provide exactly the kind of circumstances on which an Eeyore thrives. Low numbers, low giving, bad feedback, baptisms that turn out to be short-lived commitments, opposition from authorities, death threats (depending on your country)…
Circumstances will change. God will never change & he is always good, always worth praising, always worth enjoying.
Unless we are forearmed, we will not be equipped to deal with disappointment. We will not be able to pursue joy in this way. We will flounder in frustration and wallow in misery. But if you have read this far, then you are forewarned, and that is to be forearmed. Circumstances will change, will be good and then bad. God will never change and he is always good, always worth praising, always worth enjoying.
The church-planter who has learned this will be equipped to lead his family and his church in dark times, and will be equipped to pastor people whose circumstances are beyond sad.
Father God, you have been faithful and kind and merciful towards me and I will praise and give you thanks for that. Forgive me for when I fail to see that. Teach me what it means to rejoice in you always. In Jesus’ mighty name.