This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps. 118:24)
I met Gerald when I started working in downtown Houston. He was always sitting near the entrance at my parking garage. After nodding at each other for a few weeks, we introduced ourselves and started having short conversations.
I learned that Gerald had once had a family and a regular job but had lost both because of some mental health issues. He also had some drinking problems, which didn’t help his diabetes. He often said that spending nights in a shelter or outside was physically hard and scary.
Every day he greeted me with the same words: “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
One day I asked, “Gerald, given that you have lost your family, home, and work, how can you continue to rejoice and be glad?”
He just laughed. With a twinkle in his eyes he said, “That’s easy to answer. I figure that every day above the ground is better than being in the ground. Don’t you think that’s worth being grateful for? And besides that, I know that my rejoicing and praising God keeps me alive.”
My motives for getting to know Gerald were mixed. I wanted to be kind to him because this is how Jesus wants us to treat others.
But there was more. I wanted to have contact with Gerald because I believed he had something to teach me. When I met him, I was going through a significant slump and I was having a hard time lifting up my praises to God. Even though I had so many more comforts than him, he had so much more of the heart that I needed.
I pray that Gerald encourages you. If he could rejoice in his circumstances, how can we not in ours?
- Do you relate to Gerald’s comment that his rejoicing and praising God is the thing that keeps him alive? If so, how?
- Do you spend more time looking for what you can rejoice over and praise God for, or more time looking for what displeases or irritates you? If the latter, how do you think your life would change if you changed your focus?
- Have you ever considered beginning every prayer with rejoicing and praising? Is there anything that is keeping you from doing so?