“This is the day that the Lord has made / We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
If you find your brain putting the tune to those lyrics in your head, you probably learned it in Sunday School or Vacation Bible School. It’s a nice song, with a great message, though it is most certainly a potential “ear worm.” As “ear worms” go (songs that get stuck in your head), it beats the daylights out of “Achy Breaky Heart” and such mind-numbing atrocities. But I confess to a bit of a strained relationship with it.
I don’t ever expect to wake up with a desire to break into a jaunty song, even one with an uplifting message. (I did sing an early morning live music program at a coffee shop once for a couple of hours and actually enjoyed it.) It’s not that I wake up in a bad mood, I just am not a “morning person.”
It really is science, you know. We are all born with a certain “chronotype.” It’s literally in our genetics and hard-wired into our brains. Look up “suprachiasmatic nucleus” (SCN). I can point you to some good books on the fascinating subject of chronotypes, but it won’t take much thought for you to know if you’re a lark (morning person), owl (as in night owl), or a “third bird” (somewhere in the middle). You already know, and it’s clear that everyone who is breathing is on the scale somewhere. Obviously, we all have to learn to shift, like it or not, into the mode that jobs and families require. But we’re all at our best when we’re in our natural “zone.”
The above really is true, but I wish you luck in trying to convince most morning folks that their chronotype is not inherently more virtuous.
In any case, I prefer to greet the morning as quietly as possible, easing into conversation and light.
So, I admit that the “This Is the Day” song is one I’d prefer to have wafting through my brain cells a bit later in the day. And when I leave the house, and it’s already windy with a brown haze rising up to foul the atmosphere, I know I should be thankful anyway. I know that I am incredibly blessed, and nonetheless tempted to be whiny. So, sing me that song? Please, no. By the way, my considered opinion is that the “new heavens and the new earth” will feature only gentle breezes and no dirt in the air. I refuse to blame God for sandstorms—and anything else far, far worse.
Maybe that’s why I felt a little better when I realized that, in context, the verse that is the basis for the aforementioned song is not actually talking about any, or all, of our days; it is talking about a specific day. It’s the “day of salvation,” the “day” when Jehovah saves his people. Through his mighty power, the “stone” the “builders rejected” becomes the very “cornerstone” of God’s kingdom. Christians believe that the true cornerstone has a name: Jesus Christ. (Read Psalm 118, and Matthew 21:33-44 in which Jesus himself references the psalm. For a thought-provoking article on this, Google the name “Andy Kessler” and “What Does Psalm 118:24 Mean?”).
I’m not sure what it says about me, but I could easily be the guy who, when asked if a cup of coffee was half full or half empty, replies, “It doesn’t matter. Either way, we’re not gonna have enough coffee.” That said, I’m very much aware that, through Christ, whatever sort of day comes, his people will find in him more than enough strength and hope, grace and love. I just find the realism of the Son of God refreshingly reassuring and grounded in truth: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 14:33).
Trouble, yes. But also, assured and ultimate victory in Christ. Both assertions very true, no matter one’s mood. Both very true, no matter if the day is a great one or, not so much.
In the same way, I like it when Jesus says, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). And that, in this present world, is the plain, realistic, and unvarnished truth.
As the recent ads have said about Christ, “He Gets Us.” He surely gets me.
Trouble is real. But joy and hope in Christ is real, too, and far longer-lasting.
Back to the song. You don’t have to tell me. I’ve long ago realized that I get no pass on the “rejoicing” part. Of course, the Psalms take reality head-on, and you can find yourself and any of your “days,” good or bad, all over them. Every emotion humans can experience is found somewhere in the Psalms. But they do indeed say a lot about rejoicing.
And you don’t have to remind me (I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t, though you probably should) that the Apostle Paul famously said, “Rejoice in the Lord always . . .” (Read Philippians 4:4-7.)
I’m working on it. But I admit that, if you want to find me a tad more toward “glad,” it’s best to wait until mid-morning.
You’re invited to visit my website, and I hope you’ll take a look there at my new “Focus on Faith” Podcast. At the website, just click on “Podcast.” Blessings!
Copyright 2023 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.