This knowledge is the reason for our Christian optimism and our joy. Those who truly believe have nothing to fear. Now, all of this is easy to say, of course. It is another thing to keep this faith with its reasonable optimism and its joy alive and uppermost in our minds when we are in the midst of great suffering.
What joy! This psalm is a declaration of faith and is filled with an exuberant joy that is rooted in a deep relationship with the God of infinite mercy and love. It brims with the confidence of an abiding faith that has been tested in the crucible of this life. It is good for us to reflect on this psalm over and over again. It is the shining light of truth. Yes. Joy is at the center of this prayer of thanksgiving.
It is in God alone that we find the truest source of our security. We know that we can trust in his love for us, that he shelters us beneath his great wings. In this faith we have nothing to fear. Neither the terrors of the night, nor the arrows of insult, or injustice that fly by day, nor disease, nor pestilence, overwhelm us, for God is our shelter, our “shield and rampart” against all that threatens our souls. Though we may suffer in body, because we believe this, because we can say with the confidence of faith, “The Lord is my refuge,” we fear none of the evils that this world can throw up against us. And, because we love God with our whole hearts, minds, bodies and souls, he says to us as he does to the psalmist, “I will rescue [you,] I will protect [you,] for [you] acknowledge my name.” (verse 14) We believe that when we call on his name, he will answer us, that he will be with us when troubles come our way. He will give long life, that is, eternal life to those who believe in him, for he is our salvation.
This knowledge is the reason for our Christian optimism and our joy. Those who truly believe have nothing to fear. Now, all of this is easy to say, of course. It is another thing to keep this faith with its reasonable optimism and its joy alive and uppermost in our minds when we are in the midst of great suffering. But that is the truth about faith, isn’t it. It remains strong in the face of all that the world can bring against it. We know that we are made for eternity. The threats of the finite world, not even that of death, can prevail against this faith. Those who remain faithful to God in all circumstances, have in him a ready and faithful shield and a sturdy rampart against any and all fears. If we remain strong in this faith, nothing in this world will be able to overwhelm us, for he alone in our salvation.
Our joy is no mere earthly joy then. It is a joy that is rooted firmly in eternity. We know that suffering is a reality, that its intensity is difficult to endure without the grace that God gives us when we remain faithful to him. In the extremis of our suffering, we need only to turn our eyes to the eternal God. He will give us the strength and the wisdom we need to endure all things in his name. Yes. What Joy!
Lord, we are weak, but we know that you keep each one of us in the palm of your hand. Give us only your love, and your grace, O Lord, that is all we need. In these things alone we can triumph over all of our fears and win the race to our eternal home with you. You are our joy! You alone are our refuge! To you we give our all, for the sake of love, for the sake of your love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!
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