Be Careful What You Rejoice In

Sam Petitfils

"You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound"  Psalm 4:7 (ESV)

In an agrarian society, families were dependent on producing crops to provide their necessary food.  Their hearts eagerly awaited the incoming crops each year.  It was not wrong to be happy when good crop arrives. But the Psalmist makes a key distinction here: our joy comes from God directly, not in some "hoped-for" situation we hope He brings about.

Paul would later write he knew how to abound, but also how to suffer loss (Philippians 4:11-12), anchoring his sense of well-being in God directly.  Few people ever experienced the abrupt life-changing events as the Apostle Paul, but he always sought joy in God directly.  When we read the letters of Paul, we get the sense he more or less expected a "wild ride" of sorts.  But we also sense he sought his security in Christ alone.

Ideally, we should not lose our spiritual balance when life throws whammies at us.  That, of course, is easier said than done.  Still, the Psalmist demonstrates keen insight into a spiritual truth: Only God can quiet the heart; and only He can create the peace that surpasses understanding.  It only makes senses to ground our hope in Him directly, and not base happiness in any "hoped-for" life that we desire.

Society has a way of identifying its winners and losers.  It judges by outward performance and popularity.  But God sees things differently (1 Samuel 16:7; Isaiah 55:8-9); He looks upon the heart.  Since God possesses the key to eternal life and will one day administer rewards and punishment, it makes sense that we trust Him now and anchor our joy in Him.


1. Commit everything to God, try your best, and leave the results to Him.

2. When good things come, know where they came from, and rejoice in Him alone.

3. When you fail to meet your goals or life serves up a disappointment, do not despair.  God's plan always produces blessings, and we need to rejoice in that. 

4. No one lives a perfect life without failures and disappointments.  But we can all learn lessons from life's trials, and they need never destroy our peace.

5. Look forward to the day when God will make our joy complete (1 Peter 5:10), and take comfort in that.


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