My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
The Joy Pursuit is all about singing a song of joy in a world that presents us with a narrative devoid of that very thing.
Because God calls us to be a people enraptured with joy. Joy is that deep, unshakeable bedrock that comes from the confidence and assurance we have in the steadfast love of the Father. Joy expresses itself as that reckless chuckle against the cynical and the sensible, that chuckle erupting from the unshakeable hope that “All will be well” when all manner of things do not appear to be well.
Joy is the melody of the fool, the child’s song; the sound of it angers the world-wearied and sickens the world-wisened because it rests on the border between foolishness and insanity. Joy overflows from the woman who knows herself to be loved by the Saviour though she faces the darkest of trials, even unto death; it echoes from the lips of the man in chains who knows his only (real) freedom is in Christ anyway. It erupts in laughter from the mouth of the martyr and is found in the secret journals of the persecuted.
Joy is more than happiness, more than euphoria, more than fluffy emotions. Joy laughs in the face of death because it bubbles from the assurance of eternal life. It defies emotions, defies reason, because joy begins where sensibility ends. Joy is the very foolishness of God. The wisdom of the world defies it, and the strong of the world scorn it.
And why shouldn’t they? If you turn on the news tonight or skim through today’s newspapers, you’ll likely be confronted with a narrative of hopelessness. We are faced daily with story after story of despair, of tragedy, of cynicism – penetrated here and there, perhaps, by microcosmic tales of hope – but, on the whole, we are forced to look through glasses tinted with hues of melancholy. Why rejoice in the face of that?
Indeed, the Bible teaches us that this world is broken, dislocated, and hurting – the effects of our separation from God. This is evident – thinkers and writers more articulate than I have expressed this more eloquently and deeply than I could here – but it might serve some use to list some of these ills. War. Poverty. Famine. Broken families. Homelessness. Natural disaster. Disease. Corruption. Torture. Slavery. Sexual abuse. The list goes on.
And yet, the Psalmist says that his “heart is steadfast,” that he can rejoice in the midst of all that. Why is that? In a world where he is presented with countless situations contrary to hope and joy – even still, he is steadfast. He sings and makes music, he tells us. In fact, he is so enraptured with joy that he makes enough noise to “awaken the dawn.”
The key is in the context. Earlier in the Psalm, he cries out, “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy!” (Ps. 57.:1, ibid.). That’s a cry from the depths of his heart. That’s the plea of a man on his knees in utter despair, utter hopelessness at his own estate and the state of the world around him. Haven’t we all been there?
And yet, later in the Psalm he exalts God – that, when he cries out, God listens. God answers. “He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me— God sends forth his love and his faithfulness” (v. 3). He knows that in the midst of the darkest season of his soul, God is the only safe pair of hands he can entrust his soul to. He has no-where else to go, no-one else to rely on – he is in hiding, facing death at the hands of his enemies. And yet, he knows his God will provide. He finds reasons for praise in the midst of despair.
He doesn’t know how God will break through, he doesn’t see God’s goodness at his present moment, but he knows truth doesn’t change because our situations do. He knows that God is still good, that God is still worthy. Joy is the delight in truth, even a truth that is hoped in, a hope that can’t be seen.
He rejoices because God is with him.
That’s what this blog is about. This is my song of joy, my prayer, my statement of hope in the midst of a world that stands contrary to that. This is my joyful proclamation of Immanuel, “God with us,” in a world that presents us with a story opposite to that. Maybe I’m a fool. But let me be a fool chasing after the glorious, abundant, worth-it-all promise of eternal life, secure and assured in Christ, the God who suffers with us.