Psalm 32: Confronting the Thief of Joy
Be glad in in the LORD and rejoice,
You righteous one;
shout for joy,
all you upright in heart.
The beginning of a new year brings the typical social media and blog posts proclaiming one’s “Word of the Year.” I have never been one to focus on my one word or one verse for a given year, but 2019 is different. After coming through a particularly challenging time, finding myself distracted by the many things that took my eyes from what was the most important, I believed that of any year, 2019 is the year to choose my one word, setting a tone of intentionality for how I wanted the theme of this year to be. My word for 2019 is JOY.
JOY… some days you are surrounded by it, some days you must choose it, some days you depend on it, and some days you get to spread it. Joy can be there amid pain, and no one can steal it unless you allow them. That last part – the joy stealers – was the one part I wanted to guard against more than any other.
As I have sought to understand what was stealing my joy, Psalm 32 reminded me that, perhaps, I was my biggest thief.
The 32nd Psalm begins by emphasizing that we are full of joy when our “transgression is forgiven” and “our sin is covered”. The psalmist continues by declaring, “how joyful is a person whom the LORD does not charge with iniquity and in whose spirit is no deceit!” If the result of forgiveness is joy, then an unrighteous, deceitful spirt must be the culprit for stealing joy.
Two of the biggest joy stealers for women are worry and fear, especially during uncertain times and difficult circumstances. While each morning I would voice the words of the previous Psalm, “But I trust in you, LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ The course of my life is in your power” (Ps 31:14-15a), by day’s end, I fell into the trap of worry and fear. I was overcome by the raging waters around me and, just like David, it began to drain me physically, mentally, and emotionally (Ps 32:3-4). The sins of worry and fear were stealing my joy. Not until I was honest with myself and with God, confessing I was not fully trusting in the LORD and resting in His power, did I experience His forgiveness and discover joy again. He surrounded me with “joyful shouts of deliverance” (Ps 32:7).
Friend, as you are reading this, are you struggling to live each day full of joy? We can blame circumstances, painful seasons, the actions of others, or the uncertainty of the future on our struggle for joy. But perhaps, the true joy stealer is our own unrepentant sin, deceiving ourselves that we can keep going, and no one will know how hard each day is.
Let’s make 2019 the year of joy, daily confessing sin and receiving God’s complete removal of guilt and shame. May this be the day you and I declare that, while many pains will come our way, we will trust in the LORD, knowing His faithful love surrounds us, and we will choose to live each day full of His joy.