St. Paul had reason to be depressed. You know, thrown in jail, beaten, shipwrecked, stoned and left-for-dead — stuff like that. How easy would it have been for him to ask God what in the world was on his mind and just storm away mad from the whole evangelization thing!
But Paul is also the guy who said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
Huh? How is that possible?
Where joy hides
Paul knew that joy is always available, even though it sometimes “hides in the basement.” Here’s why: everything that makes us sad is passing away and everything that makes us joyful is eternal. Paul kept his eyes on the eternal. He realized that there’s always a reason for joy, because it’s a foretaste of heaven — we’re living our eternal life now, guided and loved by God. That reality is our cause of joy, no matter what feelings are on top of joy at the moment.
Psalm 44 helps us remember that. And it reminds us that we get joy to come up from the basement by focusing on gratitude and praising God for all he has given us.
I invite you to stroll with me through this beautiful psalm for a reminder that joy is eternal and God is always to be praised for that. Awesome to realize that Paul would have known this very psalm. Maybe it inspired him to “rejoice always.” Let’s follow his example.
We heard with our own ears, O God,
our fathers have told us the story
of the things you did in their days,
you yourself, in days long ago.
Lord, why is it so much easier to call to mind things that have not worked out than things that have turned out well? When I think back to the blessings you have given me in my life, I am more aware of just how much you are guiding me and have been guiding me at every moment.
To plant them you uprooted the nations:
to let them spread you laid peoples low.
How many times, Lord, have I faced a tough obstacle and not known what to do. Even if I forget to pray for help, your Holy Spirit has so often guided me to make the right decision, and things turned out better than I expected, almost seeming like a miracle. I thank you for that.
No sword of their own won the land;
no arm of their own brought them victory.
It was your right hand, your arm
and the light of your face: for you loved them.
You want us to collaborate with you, Lord. You want only to bless us. Help me to remember that you are the driving force behind every success. It is not my effort alone that accomplishes great and small things, but the power of your Providence.
It is you, my king, my God,
who granted victories to Jacob.
Through you we beat down our foes;
in your name we trampled our aggressors.
Help me to remember today to ask for your guidance and help in everything I do, so that in doing everything in your name, I will build-up the kingdom even though I’m just doing my daily duties. Help me to remember that united with you, they have infinite value to bring good into the world.
For it was not in my bow that I trusted
nor yet was I saved by my sword:
it was you who saved us from our foes,
You take delight in your children, Lord. You love shepherding us always to spiritual safety. Help me to remember today to put my hand in yours and enjoy the security of knowing you will never, ever let me go.
it was you who put our foes to shame.
All day long our boast was in God
and we praised your name without ceasing.
If gratitude for the blessings you’ve given me fills my mind today, I will not have time left over for self-pity, worry, or fear. Instead, my whole being can find joy in thanking you and praising your name, and I can let go of fear and worry if I leave the results of what I do up to you. I praise you eternally for that, Lord.