Psalm 71:23 My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to you–
I, whom you have redeemed.
Singing praise to God brings joy. The Psalmist is evidently in a pretty rough situation, but when he shifts his focus to God, the joy returns. I have known for many years that the more we focus on ourselves and our situation, the less joy we have. This is something I consistently tell people who come to me for counseling, but it’s something every human being struggles with. The Psalmist here is reminding himself that God has redeemed him, and that is likewise the source of our joy. We do need enough self-awareness to know from what we have been redeemed, because rough circumstances are a symptom, not the cause. We need to recognize that we are sinful beings, ignoring God and even actively disobeying Him, and only the redeeming work of Christ on the cross gives us an eternal hope. It is when we shift our focus to God and what He has done for us that we are able to receive the joy that He intends for us.
I am in some difficult training in this area at the moment. My wife and I went on Friday to see the surgeon who did her back surgery a few years ago, and he did a nerve block injection to help with her current pain. Sadly, I got up this morning to discover she had a very rough night with pain, having to take a pain pill around 1:30 this morning, indicating the benefit of the very painful injection lasted less than 48 hours. That’s not my pain directly, but my wife and I are indeed one, after over 53 years of marriage, and I would rather bear the pain myself than have her endure it. I find it’s easier to praise God in the middle of my own difficulties that it is to do so in the middle of my wife’s pain. Today being Sunday we have a full schedule, and the challenge is to focus on the reason behind all the things we have to do. That is actually a challenge for every church staff member every Sunday, because the job can obscure the reason for it all. I need to be consciously focused on my marvelous Savior, and not on all the lesser things that vie for my attention. I’m speaking on Guidance this morning, and I must accept and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit whatever that means, and not wallow in self.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that Cathy says her pain is less than when she got up. I pray that You would enable us both to focus on You, trusting You with ourselves, with each other, with this church, and with everything else, so that Your plans may be fulfilled in and through us, or even in spite of us, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!