By Susie Edwards
In only 17 verses, Psalm 40 seems to capture the essence and our impression of King David:
Things start out well – he waits patiently for the Lord, who brings him out of the proverbial pit, putting a new song in the king’s heart, who “delights to do Thy will and keep Thy law within his heart.”
Life goes south – “evils beyond number” surround him and his own iniquity “more numerous than the hairs on [his] head” overtakes him to the point that he cannot even see.
Joy returns – God meets David’s deepest need and here’s where we find today’s passage.
“Let all who seek Thee rejoice and be glad in Thee;
Let those who love Thy salvation say continually,
“The Lord be magnified!”
I didn’t realize David and I had much the same story.
For 61 years life was good. My birth mother chose adoption rather than abortion; my adoptive parents loved me and provided for me abundantly; my husband and family continue to be blessings at every turn. In all things I was thankful and rejoiced in nearly every situation.
March 1, 2013, our life went south. A cancer diagnosis brought our “good life” to a standstill and things as we knew them changed in an instant.
Joy. I have always loved that word. Just saying it brings a smile. Ask a 5-year-old girl what brings her joy and she might say chocolate ice cream; a 10-year-old boy might say a video game; a teenager might name a new car; a new mother would say her infant baby; a grandmother might say the hugs of her grandchildren. At different times in life, our view of joy changes.
On March 1, joy was not the first thing that came to mind when my doctor called. However, joy has returned. In verse one, David says he “waited patiently for the Lord.” Well, waiting patiently is a very hard thing to do and many times I have failed that part of this cancer journey. But we have learned so much about faith, trust, and yes, joy! It is interesting that in my first 61 years when life was “good” I didn’t practice much faith and trust. But like so many facing serious illness, these become much more important. I still hate the cancer but I love the joy we are discovering and claiming along this path.
A hymn that means so much to us, “How Can I Keep from Singing,” expresses it well:
My life flows on in endless song; above earth’s lamentation,
I hear the sweet though far-off hymn that hails the new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul — how can I keep from singing?