You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalms 16:11 ESV)
One of the things that really gets under my skin about a lot of modern Christianity is this idea that, when you become a Christian, everything will work out in your life. That you will be happy all the time. That you will get the good parking spaces at the local Wal-Mart. That your career will advance. That everything will work out for your financial benefit.
But this is simply not true. Despite the fact that we have a Bible verse to back it up, it is simply not true that when we become Christians, God will always make us happy and feel good. So what does it mean when, in God’s presence, there is no “fullness of joy?” What does it mean when, in God’s presence, there is only pain in your life?
Some would say that it is your fault. That you have walked away from God and He is punishing you for it. They will try to point out all the things you have done wrong and are doing wrong and demand that you repent immediately.
Some will say that you’re not sinning, you’re just not praying hard enough and that you simply need to have more faith and pray harder until you finally get through to God and He chooses to give you that joy and those “pleasures.”
There are other, similar, theories, but notice the one common thread in all of them: it’s all about you. But this is not what David says at all. For David, this whole idea of joy and pleasures in God’s presence is God and only God. Modern commentators seem to miss this, but check out what was said some 500 years ago:
Where God favours there is perfect happiness.
Yes, it is true, that in God’s presence “there is fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore.” But it has nothing to do with us and everything to do with God. Sometimes God wants us to walk through the valley. In fact, the valley is actually to be expected. The Bible never says that God’s people will not face troubles. It only says that God will deliver us from them. We may have to go through some tough stuff, but redemption is just on the other side.