For the Lord takes pleasure in his people… (Psalm 149:4)
Although I have read these words more times than I can count, I had never really seen, heard, or felt them. I was reading this psalm a few weeks ago, and these words just leapt off the page. My first thought was this: Really? How could God be pleased with us, pleased with me, when we all do so much that would seem to cause His displeasure?
I think I know about six people who actually, truly, naturally, and firmly believe that God takes pleasure in them. Most of us don’t. I say that through listening to my own conscience and to the outpourings of guilt and shame, I have heard from God’s children for nearly 40 years.
Here is what I most often have heard from others and from the murmurings of my own mind: Yes, God loves us, forgives us, and wants the best for us, and even though He is probably sometimes pleased with us, He would be even more pleased if we were just better people who didn’t make so many mistakes, and who said more prayers and did more for others. I so often feel that there will always be a gap between how God feels about me as I am and how God would feel if only I were more than I am.
Where does this suspicion of God’s simmering disfavor come from? Bad theology? Cranky preaching? Conditional parental love? Or simply that many of us carry around shaming and belittling voices telling us we will never be good enough?
I have been praying every day in the last few weeks with today’s scripture. The more I have prayed with the words, the more they have been breaking into my heart. When I do get a glimmer that God takes pleasure in us, regardless of what we do or don’t do, regardless of our lostness, brokenness, and foolishness, something deep within me shifts and lightens up. Simply put, I am given more hope for myself and for all of us.
While praying with these words this morning, it occurred to me that any instinct on our part to squeeze any part of God’s heart is a sin. How dare we think that our actions can control how God feels about us? Do we really think we are in control of His heart?
Today’s scripture couldn’t be clearer: God takes pleasure in us. He does so because He knows who we belong to—Him, and in whose image we are made—His. I have a hunch that if we trusted that God takes pleasure in us, we would take more pleasure in our life.
- Do you believe that God takes pleasure in you?
- If so, how come? If not, how come?
- If you daily lived with the trust that God takes pleasure in you, how would your life change?