Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
(Psalm 100 ESV)
Where’s the joy? Where’s the glad service to God? Music and singing are so much of who we are as humans—and should be such an integral part of the worship of the Lord—and yet, we barely manage a squeak and moan. (By the way, whatever happened to whistling? No one whistles anymore. Is the modern equivalent the beat-box thing?)
The luxury and ease of living the dream—the American dream—has left us discontented, bored, unhappy and coveting more. But bigger than all this, we fail to recognize that Jesus is God. If you are in Christ, then you are a child of God and compared to sheep. Like it or not, this is an appropriate comparison, but one that brings comfort, security, and joy. Taking our place in His pasture, depending on the sovereign Shepherd whose steadfast love and faithfulness endure forever, we find that He is the One who has been giving us our “daily bread.” It wasn’t us or our job or our parents. No, “the Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
More than just getting us through the check-out line at the grocery store, the Lord gives us good gifts. James wrote:
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:16-18 ESV)
In the context of James 1, these good gifts will include trials which God uses to produce steadfastness and maturity. James commands us to count this “all joy.” If we are to value the worst of life and rejoice in the worst evil, then in good times, we should be blowing the roof off with joy and thanksgiving.
In our current circumstances, probably the question, “Where’s the joy?” should be followed with a corresponding and even more deeply penetrating question, “Where’s our heart?”