Daily reading: 17 August

Turn to God during tough times.

Something to read

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Psalm 30:11-12

Something to think about

There's been a lot to discover in this short psalm. In fact, the whole psalm could be seen as a kind of journey. David starts off with a joyful appreciation of God's intervention in his life.

He moves on to a deepened perspective on suffering, stopping off at the 'mountain of prosperity' on which he briefly seems to stand, mistakenly relying on his own powers, but then realising just how fragile those are. He then reaches his lowest point, arguing with God and finally crying out to him for mercy.

But now he has reached the end point of his journey. We sense that he has learned many lessons on the way – about God, himself and life in general.

Some of us, towards the end of our life journey, have become cynical and embittered by life's setbacks. But not David. He's not at all ready to put on the 'sackcloth' of mourning, preparing for death. He wants to dance around and celebrate life – or more precisely, the kind of life that only God can give!

The word 'glory' is used in other psalms (e.g. 16:9, 108:1) to indicate a person's heart and soul. So here in verse 12, David is telling us that he wants to celebrate, not just with his body, but with everything within him – and he wants to go on doing that forever!

It's as if God has taken off the rags of self-pity, resentment and self-reliance, and clothed David instead with more healthy attire: dancing, gladness and joyful shouting! Which would you rather wear, as you go through life?

Something to do

Take a pen and paper and plot your life as a horizontal line across the page. Like a graph, above the line are those periods and events when you've known God blessing you, finding success, fruitfulness and fulfilment. Below the line are times when it's been tough, darker, more difficult.

Put labels on these things, above and below the line. Then take time to reflect, remember and pray. Thank God for the good times, but offer him also the difficult ones, asking him to come and bring hope and healing as you meditate. Finally, pray...

Something to pray

Thank you, heavenly Father, for all those times in my life when I've known your love, your presence and your provision. Thank you, too, that even in the difficult times, you've been with me. Please show me your way for the future. Turn my mourning into dancing, and I promise that I will not be silent, but give thanks to you forever!

Today's contributor is Andy Parnham, Pastor of Brockley Community Church, London.