Intro: Sometimes the holidays—for a variety of reasons—leave people feeling lonely, discouraged, or even empty. It is understandable, because life can change in a moment and sometimes we are simply not prepared for how that change will affect us. I’m thinking right now about some of our neighbors on the southwestern coast of Florida who lost jobs, homes, and even loved ones when hurricane Ian made landfall on September 28, 2022. For many, they may be longing for the holiday celebrations they enjoyed in the past.
In our passage today, the psalmist longs to go to Jerusalem and worship. He longs to celebrate the nation’s God-given holidays and festivals in the temple; however, that is quite impossible because Israel is in exile. The psalmist and the people long for the festival celebrations they enjoyed in the past.
This week we are learning more about the power of inward joy—a fruit produced by the Holy Spirit. Joy is an amazing gift from God, because it is not based on outward circumstances. Joy is rooted in a person’s relationship with God. The joy of the Lord is strong and is able to withstand and recover quickly from difficult situations. Joy is experienced when we believe the truth that God will make all things work together for our good when we love him and are called according to his purpose (Ro 8:28). So, no matter what we face in this temporal life—things we can’t control or even the consequences of our own sinful choices—God is faithful. Put your hope and trust in the Lord, because he is your Savior. Let his joy fill you.
Psalm 42:1-5 NLT
As the deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I go and stand before him?
Day and night I have only tears for food,
while my enemies continually taunt me, saying,
“Where is this God of yours?”
My heart is breaking
as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers,
leading a great procession to the house of God,
singing for joy and giving thanks
amid the sound of a great celebration!
Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and 6 my God!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for making your presence available to us. In your presence, we find the fulness of joy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.