Be joyful and glad

The stone the builders didn’t accept has become the most important stone of all. The Lord has done it. It is wonderful in our eyes. The Lord has done it on this day. Let us be joyful today and be glad. Lord, save us. Lord, give us success. (Psalm 118:22-25, NIrV)

The Bible is full of encouragements to be joyful, rejoice, be glad, and the like, including here in Psalm 118. The Lord put these encouragements all over his word because he knew we would need them. Living for God in 2024 just seems so challenging, and the devil would be delighted for us to throw up our hands in surrender, curl up into a ball, and just give up. But let’s not forget what Paul said to his young colleague Timothy: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Yet Psalm 118 reminds us that Jesus faced opposition in doing the work he was sent to do. He was rejected but refused to back down. He went to the cross not as a victim, but as the unlikely path to victory. With that victory God raised him up and gave us reason to celebrate.

Yes, each passing day seems to bring new challenges to our life of faith. But God promises that he will send us whatever we need to follow Jesus. That might be the right words at the right moment (Matthew 10:18-20), joy despite suffering (Acts 5:40,41), contentment no matter the circumstances (Philippians 4:12,13); or the confident expectation of ultimate deliverance (Romans 8). With God’s power and love behind us, we cannot give up. We strive to continue to show love to those around us, including, and maybe especially, to those who are considered unlovable by the world.

For our ministry, that means continuing to share Jesus with people impacted by incarceration in whatever ways God provides. Correcting tests, writing pen pal letters, visiting inmates in jail or prison, or mentoring them after release are all ways we can do this. We equip followers of Jesus to seek these opportunities, especially in the correctional facilities in communities near their congregation. Our faithful supporters provide the means necessary to reflect Jesus’ love for us to others.

One of the greatest joy-stealers is worry. But focusing on the needs of others instead of our fears reduces our worry. Serving Jesus by serving others restores “the joy of my salvation” to us. If you are already serving, thank you. I’m confident you have felt the joy of this work. If you would like to explore options for serving, contact me at [email protected]. If you’d like to support what we do, see page 4 for ways to do that. Come join us in this joyful effort.

By Dave Hochmuth, WELS Prison Ministry administrator