You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
Well, Christmas is over and New Year’s Eve is behind us. My husband and I don’t typically go out on New Year’s Eve, but the celebration of a New Year brings dancing to mind, at least for me. There was a time when I loved to dance. In fact, I met my husband when I asked him to dance at a club over thirty years ago! This year, as I thought of this celebration and my mind wandered back to parties and celebrations in years past, I remembered the fun we used to have dancing, and at least for a moment felt somewhat wistful. It is highly unlikely that we will boogie like that again, and this fact has the potential to make me feel sad.
But wait…Can it really make me feel sad? No, it cannot! If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that the truth about our feelings is that we choose them. So, let’s use this as an example for how to think and act biblically about situations that could potentially bring on a sinful response. As I look at this dancing thing, there are a few options: I could go ahead and dance, but it would probably result in a lot of pain for a lot of days after. That’s not a sacrifice I’m willing to make. I could skip all celebrations where people are dancing, avoiding the temptation to feel jealous or sad about my condition. That’s not an option either, because I have a desire to go to the celebrations, and to be with the people I love. Besides, if I stayed home from everything that could bring up sinful thoughts, I would never leave the house. That’s true for all of us!
No, the answer here is not to stay home, or to inflict needless pain on myself. The answer is to change my focus to a different kind of dancing. If you haven’t already, read the Scripture that I quoted at the top of this article. It says that the Lord has turned my mourning into dancing. That means He has turned my sadness into celebration! Way back in those days when I was partying and dancing the night away, my heart was dark and lost. I was a lonely, sad individual who desperately needed Christ, but didn’t know it. Though I would have appeared to be a happy person to those who saw me grooving to those tunes, inside was a hopeless despair that I thought would never go away.
Fast forward to today, and though I am no longer dancing, I am a happy follower of Christ, who is striving toward contentment in Him. He also graciously saved my husband, and today we are working to glorify God as we love one another and serve the Body of Christ. If you looked at this timeline from a worldly perspective, where physical comfort and capability are the goal, you might say that my life has turned from dancing to mourning. And, if I obeyed my feelings, you might be right. But, praise be to God, He has turned my thinking upside down, so I no longer crave those physical privileges, but desire more than anything to bring Him glory regardless of (and sometimes because of) my physical condition.
He has indeed turned my mournful heart to one that dances in celebration of the grace and love He has so generously poured out on me. Whatever he has seen fit to take from me in physical strength, He has more than replaced with sweet fellowship with Him. As I think these thoughts, I am not sad, but glad! I would not trade one moment of the fellowship I have with Christ and His body for many hours of dancing with that dark, lost heart that I had back then. I’d like to challenge you today, my sister-friend, to examine your thinking about the temptations of your heart, how they are triggered, and how you can think differently about them. I know that my God will supply new thinking. After all, He is the Creator of all things. He can surely create new thoughts, new responses, and new attitudes in your heart. Hallelujah! What a Creator! What a Savior!