This morning, as He often does, God revealed to me a new layer of truth through a verse I have read many times before.
“Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright.”
Psalm 33:1 (NASB)
Prior to today it was always the same three words, “Sing for joy”, which stood out to me. Until now, this verse simply represented one of the many times we are instructed throughout scripture to sing to the Lord. Today, however, the three words which most resonated with my spirit were “Praise is becoming”.
As I read this I paused, then read it again. Stopping to consider the implications of the word becoming. According to Merriam-Webster.com becoming is defined as “causing someone to look attractive : having a flattering or attractive effect”. In much the same way an attractive person will cause us to take notice, a beautiful sunset will capture our attention, or a delicious looking meal will beckon us to the table. . . when God’s people praise His name, our joy is attractive. Joy arouses a sense of curiosity, it quickens the spirit, and it awakens the senses of those without hope to the “something more” they are missing.
Joy is more than attractive however. Scripture tells us it is our strength! In Nehemiah chapter eight the children of Israel had gathered to listen as Ezra read the book of the law of Moses. As the Word of the Lord was being read the people began to weep, but Nehemiah spoke to them saying in part,
“Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (v. 10 NASB)
As it is with love, joy is often a choice. This can sometimes feel disingenuous, but basing our attitudes or actions on decisions rather than feelings is anything but. It is easy to be joyful in the good times, but the joy of the Lord is not limited only to times of celebration. We can be joyful no matter – and often in spite of – the circumstance. In fact, I firmly believe it is not the celebratory joy, but far more frequently the joy in struggle, the joy in loss, the joy in embracing the unknown, and the joy in times of want which is the most becoming. In contemporary times, a candle is primarily considered decorative adding nothing more than ambiance, but in the darkness a candle can keep us from stumbling; so too is it with joy in times of trouble.
It is easy to be joyful when everything is going our way, but the moment we meet some resistance it seems our joy retreats into hiding. As worship leaders, realizing we are providing those we serve with the tools they need to “Sing for joy in the Lord” further emphasizes the importance of our partnership with our pastors to intentionally choose scriptures and songs which will best support the message.
As award winning songwriter and respected worship leader Michael Farren often says,
“As worship leaders we are responsible for putting words on the lips of the bride to sing back to her Groom.”
This is no small task. To craft songs, arrange songs, and select songs which best express our joy is not just a great responsibility, but a great privilege. After all, as I have been reminded many times, “people do not go home singing the sermon.”
Choosing songs which reflect the joy of the Lord in celebration, in lament, in repentance, and in obedience is an essential part of equipping ourselves and the righteous ones we are privileged to lead with the tools we need to “choose joy”. A choice which will not only effect each of us personally, but one which will also serve as a beacon of the hope of Christ to all we come in contact with throughout the week. As we write and select songs, let us do so keeping this truth at the forefront of our minds.
In closing, I would like to suggest an alternate job description for our position.
Worship Leader: An agent called by the Almighty God to equip His people with the weapons of praise! Weapons strong enough to pierce the darkness, disarm the scoffer, and point the hearts of the people to Jesus.