Maybe you have heard the joke, “Sometimes I wake up Grumpy…and sometimes I let him sleep.” Well at our house, I’m the one who tends to start the day with a less than cheerful attitude. It’s not that I’m in a bad mood; I just take a while before I run on all cylinders. Maybe you can relate to this. And if you share your household with others who bounce out of bed like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, there are probably days you wish you could get them to put a blanket on it for a minute until you catch up to their morning enthusiasm.

To add to the challenge I’ve had the strangest dreams for the last few weeks. Not nightmares, but full of frantic efforts and anxious striving. I wake exhausted and edgy. Combined with gray mornings and COVID uncertainties, I was struggling to grasp the presence of God in my morning devotions. I have so much to be thankful for and yet I felt a little lost in isolation, and day after day of sameness.

The other morning I had a breakthrough. I read from Psalm 86: “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul” (Psalm 86:3-4, ESV) I responded out loud. “Yes, Lord, please. Gladden my soul!” I wrote in decorative script, “to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul” on the blank page opposite in my journal Bible.  

My parched spirit was thirsty for refreshment so I held it up to God–the Living Water—the only One who can bring gladness to darkened souls.

How do I know that? Because I believe the descriptions of God throughout the rest of the psalm:

He is my God (verse 2).

He is good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who seek Him (verse 5).

He answers the prayers of those who call on Him (verse 7).

There is no other god like Jehovah who do what He does (verse 8).

His deeds are great and wondrous (verse 10).

He is the One and only God (verse 10).

I have personally experienced His steadfast love (verse 13).

Jesus rescued my soul from eternal death when He died on the cross and set me free (verse 13).

The psalm goes on. Our Master, Creator, Savior, Shepherd, Friend, and Comforter is worthy of praise and faithful to us no matter how foul our mood or deep our despair. When the author of this psalm talked about needing a united heart (verses 11-12) I felt my need for the same thing.

“Yes, Lord, I need a united heart. Instead of giving you lip service, while I satisfy my own comfort and selfish desires, I want to worship You with all I am. I want to give you wholehearted praise.”  

I have been practicing this daily: asking the Lord to fill my soul with gladness as I lift it to Him, and praising Him wholeheartedly.

I still don’t wake up bouncy and talkative, but the restlessness is easing up. I am welcomed into the day by peaceful contentment. The crazy dreams have stopped and I am becoming more at ease each day. Even with the unexpected.

There will always be times when we are not “glad.” Grief, worry, trauma, or simply waking up grumpy can steal our happiness. But lifting our souls to Christ and offering Him praise are definitely two steps in the right direction to reclaiming our gladness.