Sackcloth to Joy
Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 30:6-12 | Leviticus 13:1-59 | Mark 6:1-29 | Proverbs 10:10
Today’s Scripture Focus: Psalms 30:6-12
“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,  that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever” (Psalm 30:11-12 NIV).
The Christian life is characterized by joy. Not that it is always easy—it is not. But joy flows from a relationship with Christ, not from our circumstances, so it is may be found in the most unusual places—especially the difficult ones.
The Psalmist tells us something surprising: that sackcloth and mourning often lead to deep joy. When desperate times came to God’s people in the Old Testament, the prophets and leaders would often call the people to cry out to God in sackcloth and ashes. Culturally, this was a way of expressing deep sorrow and grief. When faced by desperate times and difficult circumstances, sackcloth and ashes expressed the cries of their desperate hearts for the intervention of God. From the place of humility we cry out to God, the ultimate source of our joy.
Furthermore, dressing in sackcloth is a way to express repentance from sin. In times of revival, God’s people began to acknowledge their sin and to turn from it. They recognized that they have failed and begin to turn again to God. In the same way, repentance serves to free us from our guilt, and then our wailing can be turned to dancing. The chains of guilt and condemnation fall to the floor and can we begin the dance of joy.
Sackcloth and ashes was also a way of expressing faith and hope that God might hear their prayers, bring healing to their land and revival to the people of God. The joy of a revived heart flows from a life that humbly confesses sin and looks with faith for a fresh touch from God.
Looking for joy? Humble yourself. Turn from you sin. Look with eyes of faith. Allow God to revive your heart. Then let the dance begin!
Father God, fill me with the joy of your presence. May the reservoir of joy that comes from spending time with you bubble up within me when life gets difficult. May the joy of the Lord give me the strength I need to press on. Thank you, even now, for clothing me with joy. May I sing and not be silent, may I give you thanks. May my wailing now turn to dancing. Amen.