People who have been Christian for a while tend to lose the passion they had at first. This passion is even found among those who have grown up in the Church but had that “heart warming experience” where faith became real and Christianity went from being a religion to being a relationship with God. Yet for these people as well, that passion can cool off over time. This is why Psalm 126 is a great reminder for us:
When the Lord changed Zion’s circumstances for the better,
it was like we had been dreaming.
2 Our mouths were suddenly filled with laughter;
our tongues were filled with joyful shouts.
It was even said, at that time, among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them!”
3 Yes, the Lord has done great things for us,
and we are overjoyed.
4 Lord, change our circumstances for the better,
like dry streams in the desert waste!
5 Let those who plant with tears
reap the harvest with joyful shouts.
6 Let those who go out,
crying and carrying their seed,
come home with joyful shouts,
carrying bales of grain!
We look back to see what God has done in the past for us, and then we are reminded for what we need to pray in the present. May we all never lose the passion we had at conversion or heart warming experience. And if we do lose it, may we cry out to the Lord to possess it once again just as the psalmist did.
Sometimes there is no crisis in life, and we can experience the unmitigated joy of being with God–having a relationship with God, being saved, and being in fellowship with all of God’s people. In fact, having this kind of joy in the Lord is really the default setting for Christians. Sure there are times when life is hard and unfair. That comes with the territory of being a Christian. Yet because one of the fruits of the Spirit is joy, this is the state to which we revert when things calm down (some actually never leave this state of joy despite the hardships of life around them!).
Psalm 100 is a perfect psalm to remind us of the joy we have in Christ:
Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Serve the Lord with celebration!
Come before him with shouts of joy!
3 Know that the Lord is God—
he made us; we belong to him.
We are his people,
the sheep of his own pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanks;
enter his courtyards with praise!
Thank him! Bless his name!
5 Because the Lord is good,
his loyal love lasts forever;
his faithfulness lasts generation after generation.
Only can someone who has experienced the joy of God say such a thing as this psalm. Only those who have been so filled with the love and peace of God that it overflows in their lives can say such a thing as this psalm. Only those who know God, not just intellectually but experientially–not just in their heads but in their hearts–can say such a thing as this psalm.
This is the joy of the Lord. If you have never experienced this joy for yourself, ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit to the extent that you do. This is the peace that passes understanding that Paul talks about in Philippians 4:4-7:
Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.
The joy of the Lord is wonderful. Don’t miss it.