“Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
‘Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
Behold, at that time I will deal
with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will bring you in,
at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes,’ says the Lord.” Zephaniah 3:14-20
Cares of this world pull to divide our hearts, but as God’s children, we are to have whole ones. The presence and promises of God are enough to fill them to the brim with gladness and joy, keeping no room for anxiousness or dread. When we rejoice and exult with all our hearts, there is no qualifying ‘but’ or ‘if only’ to pepper our praises or straggle behind.
It takes intent to have a whole heart for God, involving both what we believe and how we behave in response. When we accept that the Lord has forgiven our sin, removed the enemies of shame and fear, and that we bear no condemnation or judgment, we will trust wholly His great salvation. When we believe in Christ’s personal, pursuing love, we will rest in His presence and His delight over us. When we believe His promises are true, and for restoration and redemption, we will wholeheartedly trust He works in our hardships for ultimate good. (Psalm 103:11-13; Romans 8:1,28)
What if we banked on growth, encouragement, and God’s glory coming through hardship? What if, instead of complaint, we wholly believed God’s word and turned it to praise?
“O for a heart to praise my God,
a heart from sin set free;
a heart that’s sprinkled with the blood
so freely shed for me:
A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
my great Redeemer’s throne;
where only Christ is heard to speak,
where Jesus reigns alone:
A humble, lowly, contrite heart,
believing, true, and clean,
which neither life nor death can part
from him that dwells within:
A heart in every thought renewed,
and full of love divine;
perfect and right and pure and good —
a copy, Lord, of thine.
Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart,
come quickly from above;
write thy new name upon my heart,
thy new best name of Love.” ~Charles Wesley (1742)