When getting out of my car in the parking lot at work in the morning, it’s not always sunny. I don’t live in one of those coastal states where the weather is perfect 9 times out of 10. Instead, I have spent most of my life in the Midwest, where we may use the air conditioning and heater in our car on the same day, and where gray skies are often complemented only by the orange barrels of perpetual road construction.
However, if it’s a rainy or snowy day, I sometimes step out of my car and think about the theme to the old children’s program, “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood“. If you didn’t watch it as a kid, the song starts out, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…” My co-workers may wonder what’s going on, especially when I try to whistle that tune (after all, let’s face it – I can’t whistle), but it’s almost a subconscious reaction some days.
The author of Psalm 118 had a similar positive outlook. We don’t know if it was raining or sunny when this was written, but the message is clear:
This is the day which the LORD has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalms 118:24 NASB
The expectation of joy and gladness in the day doesn’t have any environmental qualifiers in this verse. We are not called to limit our positive outlook based on the weather. Nor should our financial situation, our relationships, political trends, or our health undermine a base level of appreciation for what God has given us with each new day.
Yes, there is a time for sorrow, and I’m not suggesting that we just “put on a happy face” when we don’t feel like it. However, there is always gratitude and praise that we can give to God for sustaining His creation yet another day (see Genesis 1:3-5, and then Colossians 1:16-17).
Furthermore, going back to Psalm 118 and backing up a few verses, the context suggests that this is not just an arbitrary or reluctant decision on the part of the psalmist. He’s not just saying this because a teacher told him to. Take a look at a few verses that precede this one:
I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me,
And You have become my salvation.
The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief corner stone.
This is the LORD’S doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
Psalms 118:21-23 NASB
The psalmist is thankful to God, based on specific things that God has done. There is good reason for rejoicing. Even if (when) things here on earth get pretty rough (which they have), we can look to God’s gracious work in our lives, within our souls, and throughout history. For any one of these things, we could praise Him; for all of these taken together, we are compelled to praise Him. It’s only right.
We don’t rejoice in a day just because the weather is good, or because we got to sleep in (although those aren’t necessarily bad things when we get them). Joy is not an externally-imposed condition – although our cultivation and acknowledgement of joy may be influenced by our surroundings. Instead, joy is a state within us – given by God, and embraced by our choice (or suppressed, also by our choice).
We can rejoice today because it is a day that God has made: He made the earth. He created the sun to mark out daytime. He gave us purpose. He reached out to us so that we could learn about Him. Let us experience the joy of the Lord in our lives, and then the natural outpouring of our words and actions will be rejoicing!
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
Philippians 4:4 NASB