In My Day, Revisited

My students are wimps. They whine about everything. In my day, we wrote forty-page research papers longhand and then we typed them on typewriters–manual typewriters. We didn’t need any of that namby-pamby Internet stuff to do our research. No, we used the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature and struggled through seventeen steps before we’d ever see an article that might be marginally useful. We did all that, and we liked it!

As we wrap up our examination of Psalm 118:24, I’d like to take a look at the final two words, each just two letters in length. It’s easy to get all excited about rejoicing and being glad and to pass right by “in it.” “In it” just feels tacked on and unimportant, but it’s not.

When we read the first words of the second half of the verse–either “let us” or “we will”–we’re in the future tense, but that really doesn’t get to the heart of the time element in this verse. This is the day and we are in it. That’s where we’re supposed to rejoice and be glad.

The problem with the grumpy old man that Saturday Night Live presented and that I copied at the outset is that he’s living in the past. We laugh at Dana Carvey’s rendition, but it’s not that much an exaggeration. My mother and Penny’s father can head pretty far down that backward-looking path.

At the same time, people can look forward to tomorrow, to retirement or to empty nesting or to vacation or even to the weekend. Just as surely as there are grumpy people looking backward, many of us spend far too much time pining for the future.

Neither of those, however, is where God wants us. Neither is where Psalm 118:24 asks us to focus. We are called to rejoice and be glad in it, in this day.

Most of my students have not gone far enough down life’s road to be looking wistfully at the past, but many of them are looking ahead. Some of the others aren’t looking ahead, but are stuck grumbling in today, perhaps escaping it by sleeping in or indulging in intoxicants. These are not the reactions that will bless us.

This si the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.