“…Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle.” This really made me ponder many things that I had not thought to ponder in the past. My favorite verse in the Bible has always been Psalm 27:13 and 14, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” However, I’ve always breezed right past verse 6 and offering “sacrifices of joy.”
How does one offer sacrifices of joy amidst heartache, grief, loneliness, illnesses and depression? How can you be joyful when everything you’ve always known is collapsing around you and you feel helpless to do anything about it and prayer, at times, seems so futile? How do you tell a young girl, who has aborted her baby, that there is HOPE and in the midst of her sin, and, yes, even her grief, there is forgiveness at the foot of the cross…only there can her shame and guilt be left and she can then, too, offer the sacrifices of joy?
Sacrifice is difficult…it is painfully difficult most of the time. It is not for the faint of heart or the casual Christian because it requires surrender: Surrender to one-self, control and surprisingly wallowing in the pains that keep us from the sacrifice. Yes, wallowing…..sometimes we (I) am more comfortable with the difficulties that keep me from surrender and submission than we joy of our healing…difficulties that keep us from falling prostrate before God and crying out for forgiveness. I find myself swimming in the “pool of wallowing …” OR not submersing in the Pool of Forgiveness…like the man in John 5 who, for 38 years, lived in his infirmity and never stepped into the Pool of Bethesda. Then Jesus “comes” into his life and heals him. He did not linger either…he did as Jesus said and picked up his bed and went home! What an example of how we are to respond when Jesus moves in our lives!
However, sometimes we aren’t completely healed like this man are we? Sometimes Jesus moves and our infirmity, as it were, is left intact…like Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” Jesus then begins to teach us how to persevere in them because HE needs to work through them. He wants to use them for His glory. So that we may, as it says in 2 Corinthians 2:4, “That we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves ARE comforted by God.” Paul doesn’t say, “have been” comforted; but, “ARE!” That is a hard lump to swallow for me. Oh, the times I have cried out, “Why don’t you just remove my depression or my diabetes or my paralyzed stomach, God? Lord, it would be much easier for ME to serve YOU, if these things were removed. Don’t you want me to be free and in complete service? Lord, why are you holding me back?”
However, this morning, when He began teaching me about the “sacrifices of joy,” I realized that experiencing joy and expressing joy when we don’t feel like it, is very difficult. It is easy to offer up praise when there has been an answer to prayer or a miracle in our lives; but, what about when you have been admitted to the hospital for the eleventh time in a year? How do you express joy and serve Him joyfully when you have lost your spouse, parent or child? What is easy about expressing or experiencing joy when you have been diagnosed with an inoperable, untreatable cancer and your days on earth are numbered? Does being joyful come easily when your home is in foreclosure and you do not know where you will find a home for your family? How do you offer up the sacrifices of joy then?
In Psalm 27:1, David was facing his enemies; yet, he said, “Of whom shall I be afraid?” David declared that he would only desire and seek to be “hidden in the secret of His tabernacle.” He said that then he could offer the “sacrifices of joy.”
Offering sacrifices of joy is done without complaining and can only be offered through the perfect love of Jesus. Once you have exchanged lordship over your own life and made Him Lord it will be made easier. It will still be difficult, at times, but we have to CHOOSE to offer the sacrifices of JOY. Then we can declare verses 14 and 13, with David …but only then.