At his sacred tent, I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Psalm 27:6b
Massena, one of Napoleon’s generals, suddenly appeared with eighteen thousand men before an Austrian town that had no means of defense. The town council had nearly decided to surrender when the old dean of the church reminded them that it was Easter and begged them to hold services as usual and to leave the trouble in God's hands. This they did, and the French hearing the church bells ringing joyfully concluded that an Austrian army had come to relieve the place and quickly broke camp. Before the bells ceased ringing, all the Frenchmen had vanished. (Source: One Thousand Evangelistic Illustrations, Aquilla Webb)
The writer of Job observes that “Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble. They spring up like flowers and wither away; like fleeting shadows, they do not endure” (Job 14:1-2). No one gets to live a trouble-free life. We should not shame those who struggle with depression and sadness. Instead, we should remind them they can choose joy when their spirits are downcast.
Choosing joy does not mean we ignore our pains or pretend that life is trouble-free. At times, choosing joy is a sacrifice we must make for the sake of our sanity. When we wake up in the morning, we must decide which path we are going to follow—Joy or sadness. Some people think they can follow both paths and be sane. Such an unwise decision leads to frustration and despair.
Following the path of joy is not easy. It may require a sacrifice of our spirits. That is, we may have to sacrifice our proclivity to see life pessimistically while bemoaning all our struggles. But those who sacrifice for joy experience the peace of God and live with hope in any circumstance. The sacrifice of joy is rooted in our faith, hope, and trust in God. It is our way of fighting back when the darkness of this world tries to engulf our spirits.
In today’s text, the Psalmist teaches us how to sacrifice with joy—he sings and makes music to the Lord. This is something that anybody can do. Everyone has a song of joy their soul wants to sing every morning. Unfortunately, too many people choose not to sing that song when their souls are vexed. Instead, they opt to make their souls sing the blues. Mary the mother of Jesus offers us a good example of what it means to offer a sacrifice of joy. When they told her she would be pregnant and possibly become a pariah to her community, rejected by her husband, or even face death—she sang to the Lord (Luke 1:46-56).
Your soul longs to offer a sacrifice of joy to the Lord today. So, don’t let despair silence its voice. It wants to ring the joy bells in the face of pain, sickness, poverty, fear, loneliness, and all other trials. The soul that offers God the sacrifice of joy will experience unimaginable victory over the trials of life. It will celebrate even when “sorrows like sea billows roll.”
So, go ahead and sing to the Lord when your heart is heavy, and you are troubled by the cares of this world. Serenade the Lord with the voice of your soul and let your spirit rejoice in the Lord of your salvation. Let your heart be glad and your tongue rejoices so your body can rest secure in the promises of God’s providential love. Ring the joy-bells every morning before you start your day and watch how quickly sadness and depression will run away.
Questions for Personal Reflection
What are the benefits of the sacrifice of joy?
What do you do when sadness tries to conquer your soul?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, please help me to choose joy over sadness. May my soul rejoice in you and serenade your heart with a sacrifice of joy. Remind me of the benefits of joy when I face pain, sickness, poverty, fear, loneliness, and all other trials. Please give me the courage to ring the joy-bells when my soul wants to sing the blues.