What is the thing that brings you the most joy? A new baby? A good pizza? Waking up and realizing that you don’t have to get up yet? We all have those things, but we can also find ourselves tiptoeing through the poison ivy of depression at other stimuli. What’s a would-be happy person to do?
The secret to happiness is not to depend on those outside stimuli. Although I’m unsuccessful at times, I try to use a familiar verse from Psalms to bolster my happiness quotient.
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.–Psalm 118:24
Over a few entries, I’d like to unpack this single verse and take it from the lyric for a number of praise songs to see what sort of complexity there might be within.
“This”–The first word of the verse, apparently innocuous, actually gets us started well. In English-teacher speak, “this” is a demonstrative pronoun. You don’t need to know that little piece of grammatical knowledge to use the word a hundred times a day without ever thinking about it. “This baby is adorable.” “I eat my pizza this way.” “This morning I don’t have to get up!”
Typically, we use “this” to indicate something close at hand. “This house” is probably the house closest to you, right? “That house” is down the street.
So “this” is the day. We’re not talking about “that” day. We’re concerned with “this” day. Another name for it is “today.” When the Psalmist refers to “this” day, he doesn’t mean tomorrow or next Tuesday. He doesn’t mean the weekend or my birthday or Christmas. He doesn’t mean the day I retire or the day I graduate or the day I go on vacation. Any of those might be “that” day, but “this” day will always be today.
I open my eyes in the morning, still hazy from sleep. What day of the week? I’m not sure. What’s my schedule? I’m not clear yet, but it doesn’t matter. “This” day is the day that the Lord made no matter what this day holds. There’s no superscript on Psalm 118 that says “To be read on Yom Kippur or the king’s birthday.” No. It needs to be appropriate for any day–for “this” day.
So let’s go back to the top. What brings you the most joy? It should be today, “this” day.