Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
Joy is often confused with happiness. Happiness depends on our outward circumstances—how things are going in our jobs, our relationships, or our health, for example. But joy isn’t dependent on the weather, or on our weight, or on our bank accounts. Joy is a quality of the spiritual fruit (love) that grows within us.
Psalm 126 was written at a difficult time in the -history of God’s people. They had been released from exile in Babylon, and as the people returned to their homeland, they found it in ruins. Jerusalem had been destroyed, and their temple had been flattened. Enemies still surrounded them on every side.
It’s no wonder that as they journeyed home, they prayed, “Restore our fortunes, LORD.”
Despite the people’s circumstances, however, their “mouths were filled with laughter” and their “tongues with songs of joy.” Why? Because they had determined to be joyful.
Centuries later, the apostle Paul wrote to Christian believers in Philippi, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11). God’s people returning to the land of Israel after exile had learned the same lesson. Happiness may depend on the condition of our outward lives, but joy is something the Spirit grows within us, reflecting God’s unfailing love.
Father, grant me a sense of joy that does not depend on circumstances. Cultivate an inner joy that reflects your love within me, and help me to share it with others. In Jesus, Amen.
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