In the city of Seattle when the sun comes out you can sense a shift in people’s mood. It’s not that folks expect it to rain every day; it’s just that people don’t often anticipate the sun during the rainy season. Folks seem genuinely happy when an unanticipated gift like sunshine breaks the monotony of gray days on end.
The psalmist has experienced a “grayness” of illness, “groaning all day long.” But then he acknowledges his sin to God, and the sunshine of forgiveness lights his life.
This amazing ray of “sunshine” shifts the psalmist’s mood; God preserves him from trouble, surrounding him with deliverance. This shift is life-altering, so much so that the psalmist goes on to bear witness to others of the difference God can make in a life. From his experience of steadfast love, he steps out to instruct, teach, and counsel others, encouraging them to entrust their lives to God’s care.
Verse 1 alludes to those who are “happy.” By the end of the psalm, there is joy—joy in God’s steadfast love. I perceive a difference between joy and happiness. I often experience happiness as a fleeting moment: a hot-fudge sundae with peppermint ice cream makes me happy while I eat it. But no matter how much or how often I delight in this treat, that feeling will dissipate too.
Happiness is temporary. Joy lingers in our hearts and souls, a ray of sunshine on the gloomiest of days. When did you last experience joy?
Forgiving God, thank you for moments of happiness. May I experience the joy of forgiveness today through your son, Jesus the Christ. Amen.