By Debbie Christopher ~~Isn't the above question one of the most frequently asked questions of the Christmas season? I'm sure we all remember marking pages and circling very specific items in the toy catalog as a child. I'll never forget our eldest granddaughter circling items she already owned. When I asked her why she marked these 'repeats', she replied, "I have them at my house, but I need them to be at your house too!" Smart girl, I might say!
Then again, maybe you have that memory of not getting that item you had at the top of your list. One year...a long time ago...my husband and I had this bright idea to save our then 5 year old son's top of the list toy till last. Oh, the sadness and disappointment on his sweet face when the last package was opened and there was no 'My Buddy' doll. But when dad brought out one more gift...oh the joy that beamed from that sad, disappointed face! I think I remember the sadness more than the joy. We never did that plan again!
Sometimes discouragement sets in when our earthly desires are not met...the things . Often we claim verses such as Psalm 37:4 and become discouraged...without capturing what David was actually saying.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:4 ESV
So, what is the lesson for us in this wisdom-themed Psalm? Before zeroing in on verse 4, let's dig into the surrounding verses.
Notice David begins this Psalm with the admonition to not be discouraged by the 'blessings' of others---in particular, the ungodly. We could apply this to our topic by saying, "Don't be discouraged when others seem to have Christmas 'all together' and get all the things they want." Their 'joy' is fleeting.
How do we 'do' this? Consider the action words used in verses 3-5. Don't worry about those that seem to have it all, instead:
V3: Trust in the Lord
V4 (our theme verse): Delight in the Lord...and the things of the Lord
V5: Commit your way to the Lord
You are probably asking, "Yeh, Debbie....but HOW?
David addressed this with additional instructions and encouragement regarding having the joy and peace you desire.
Based on a sampling of verses from the remainder of this Psalm, here are some actions you can take to help you not dwell on the fleeting 'joys' and 'blessings' of others, but rather, trust, delight in, and commit to the Lord Who brings true joy and peace.
Please note these verses from Psalm 37 in particular:
Verse 7---In the midst of the hustle and bustle (the stress!), stop...take a deep breath and wait patiently for the Lord to accomplish His plan. Take joy in the promise that He will provide...in His time. I can assure you that His provision will be over and beyond your original 'desire'!
Verse 8---Do not be agitated when things seem unfair....see verse 7😉
Verse 16---Re-evaluate your blessings! Be content with the blessings that are often overlooked.
Verse 37---Find a mentor. Find a dear godly friend who seems to have that true joy and peace amidst the hustle and bustle. Watch her and ask her, "How do you do it?"
Back to verse 4...
Notice that the verse admonishing us to delight in the Lord is the verse that contains the often misinterpreted phrase, '...and He will give you the desires of your heart.'' In ancient writings, emphasized details are often placed in the middle of two related thoughts. Delighting in the Lord is central to trusting and committing. Trusting and committing involves delighting in the Lord in such a way as to wanting your desires to be pleasing to Him.
Keeping in line with the verses discussed above, let's consider making sure our desires go beyond 'things' but, involve:
Getting to know God more deeply by prioritizing time spent in His Word...becoming more faithful in our Bible reading and Bible study...
Intentionally seeking ways to be a blessing to others instead of dwelling on our discouragements and stresses.
Determine to make necessary life changes that will bring you more in line with God's plan and purpose for your life....a perfect consideration for a New Years' resolution! Maybe I will continue this thought with my January blog...as there are so many verses and commentary thoughts that I could add to this point!
One additional thought:
As I was wrapping this up (unintended, yet appropriate pun!), this thought came to mind based on a YouVersion devotional* our family ladies were participating in together. The author's theme went right along with the main point of this blog post. I encourage each of us to keep this thought in mind as we struggle with the emotions of Christmas.
Christmas is celebrating the greatest gift of all, even if experiencing grief and/or hardship.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 ESV
May the true blessings of Christmas be your greatest desire this season!