You can’t count on circumstances, people, or even yourself for real joy and true peace. Those things come from God. He never promised us rosy happy days or a life on this earth without hardship. But He gives us a way to know peace and joy through our suffering. King David understood this. He knew that even in the deepest pain he could know the greatest joy and during the most turbulent struggles he could have perfect peace.
Ask yourself and be honest, (you and God are the only ones who can hear your reply and He already knows the truth), “Do I know actual joy and peace even in the midst of the worst stuff?” Sincere joy doesn’t mean a big smile on your face, no matter what. Genuine peace doesn’t mean apathy. If you, like me fall short of these attributes then join me as I pursue God and seek His kingdom to know Him more deeply.
When David was suffering, what did He do? He prayed. Verses 1-7 read,
Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
2 Preserve my life, for I am godly;
save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
3 Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
4 Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
6 Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
7 In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me.
David acknowledged that he needed the Lord and he couldn’t meet his own needs (I am poor and needy). He conceded God’s sovereignty over his life (You are my God). In one sentence David declared his godliness, (his devotion to God’s ways) and declared his need for God’s grace. David knew he could only be godly because of God’s Lordship over him.
He also knew he was safe with The LORD because He is good and forgiving, and abounding in steadfast love. Abounding means rich, complete, and proliferating, having plenty, not lacking, and multiplying. Steadfast means constant, unswerving, reliable and stalwart. God’s love doesn’t depend on our behavior or effort. It doesn’t depend on how many hours, minutes, or seconds we spend in prayer or how much we gave to charity. God’s love is abounding and steadfast. God is love 1 John 4:8 reads,
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
King David could have joy because he could praise the Lord. He could tell God how great He is. When we praise God, we exalt God and we remind ourselves who God is and what He has done and is capable of doing. Verses 8-10 read,
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like yours.
9 All the nations you have made shall come
and worship before you, O Lord,
and shall glorify your name.
10 For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.
King David knew his answers didn’t lie anywhere but with the Lord. No god, no idol, no effort of his own can do what God can do. Nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37). Though the world in large doesn’t worship Him now, one day all the nations will come and worship, one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11). Only God can make that happen.
It is through our relationship with Him that His lavish and ever-present love makes us able to experience joy and peace. He teaches us. As we submit to Him, He changes us. Verses 11-13 read,
Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
I love how David puts it in verse 11, “unite my heart.” How often is my broken heart split into fear and faith? How often do I feel doubt, peace, trust, fear, despair and hope at the same time? My heart can war against itself. But God unites my heart and enables me to give thanks to Him with my whole heart. How? Walking in the truth, who is Jesus Christ I come to know God. 1 John 4:16-19 puts it this way,
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.19 We love because he first loved us.
God is perfect love and He casts out fear, He perfects His love in us, His love abides (stays) in us. Casting out fear doesn’t mean we have nothing to fear, it means we do not have to be afraid. God doesn’t cast our fear by taking all the things we fear away from us. He changes us, not the circumstances. Verses 14-17 read,
O God, insolent men have risen up against me;
a band of ruthless men seeks my life,
and they do not set you before them.
15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me;
give your strength to your servant,
and save the son of your maidservant.
17 Show me a sign of your favor,
that those who hate me may see and be put to shame
because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
Enemies will still rise up against us. But we do not have to react in fear, despair, or hate. We depend on God, not ourselves. We depend on God, not our circumstances. We depend on God not people. We can respond in love, mercy and grace because God is merciful, gracious and abounding in steadfast love. When we do that, when we let them see the supernatural manifestation of God in us and not our natural selves, they will have the chance to come to know God too.
It is not natural for us to leave vengeance to God. It is not natural for us to have peace while people hate or conditions pull us down. It is not natural for us to remain joyful even in the middle of terrible suffering. It is supernatural, it is only possible with God. That kind of response is love perfected in us.
Peace and joy are the realization of your faith in God’s absolute unconditional love for you and for the people around you. Whatever you are going through, good or bad, authentic and indisputable joy and peace can be yours. Peace and joy do not stem from circumstances; they come from God. Believer, I encourage you today to pray, seek God, and praise Him. Live the fruit of the Spirit of God in you. I’ll leave you with this encouragement from Paul. Philippians 4:4-9 reads,
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.