by Jody Slaughter
Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”
When I first heard this verse I immediately felt hope, comfort, peace and joy. Comfort came in the promise that God was with me. Besides God’s presence promised it also said that God would provide victory for any difficulty I would face. And furthermore, the prophet said that God will rejoice over us. Many of us learned as children that God loves us, but this communicates that God ‘likes’ us as well. The next part of the verse talks about how God’s love renews us, or quiets us. Each day we may have something that bothers or worries us. This verse teaches that the love God has for his creation can calm us and renew our spirits. When we feel anxious or worried about something it can alter our perspective and negatively impact us, or our relationships with others. But when we receive the love of God, calm and newness can fill our hearts and minds.
One of my favorite authors, Sue Monk Kidd shares a story in her book entitled, “Firstlight,” that relates to this verse. She writes, “my husband’s grandmother, Beatrice, had just finished sewing a rosebud pink dress. As she held it up for me to see, I thought about the interminable hours she must have spent pedaling her ancient sewing machine. “It’s beautiful,” I told her. “Tomorrow I’ll wear it to church,” she announced, draping the dress over the ironing board. The iron was old and had overheated. In seconds, after she started to iron it, a large brown scorch seared into the skirt. With a sigh, Beatrice pulled out her scissors and cut the dress into small squares. She tucked the little pile of squares into her sewing basket. I knew she meant them for a quilt…On cold nights, when I draw up the quilt of rosebud pink squares that warms my bed, I sometimes think about the little pile of disappointments that I’ve stored away and how I can patch them together into something new.”
I believe God’s love can help us patch together our difficulties to create or find something new. God then celebrates with us as we experience new hope and beginnings. The scripture says that God rejoices or exults over us with loud singing. So, when we accept and allow God’s love to give us hope, peace and new life it brings such delight to God.
There’s a story shared in Richard Foster’s book called, “Prayer,” which illustrates “God rejoicing over us with singing.” He writes:
One day a friend of mine was walking through a shopping mall with his two-year-old son. The child was in a particularly cantankerous mood, fussing and fuming. The frustrated father tried everything to quiet his son, but nothing seemed to help. The child simply would not obey. Then, under some special inspiration, the father scooped up his son and, holding him close to his chest, began singing an impromptu love song. None of the words rhymed. He sang off key. And yet, as best he could, this father began sharing his heart. “I love you,” he sang. “I’m so glad you’re my boy. You make me happy. I like the way you laugh.” On they went from one store to the next. Quietly the father continued singing off key and making up words that did not rhyme. The child relaxed and became still, listening to this strange and wonderful song. Finally they finished shopping and went to the car. As the father opened the door and prepared to buckle his son into the car seat, the child lifted his head and said simply, “Sing it to me again, Daddy! Sing it to me again!”
What a beautiful image of the calm assurance and love we can experience as we envision God singing over us. May you know God is right with you, mighty to save, quieting your anxious heart with His love, and rejoicing over you with singing.
Jody Slaughter is the Spiritual Care Associate at Prince of Peace.