Psalm 51:12 (CSB) Restore the joy of your salvation to me, and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit.
One of the fiercest enemies of Christian joy is an unwilling spirit. An unwilling spirit must be dragged along the way of Christ, kicking and screaming, because its will is at odds with the purposes of our Lord. And sometimes we find our hearts wrestling with such an unwilling spirit unexpectedly. We might be following the Lord well when suddenly we find ourselves struggling against the cost of faithfully following him. These are the times when we struggle to find sustained joy in our life with Christ.
My baby son reminded me of the joylessness of this kind of unwilling spirit when he climbed up on our daughter’s exercise trampoline, which is only about 6 inches off the ground and has a padded handrail, so my son knows how to dismount this trampoline. But for some reason he decided he didn’t want to do it by himself. Instead, he wanted me to get him off the trampoline. As his father I knew that it’s necessary for him to learn how to get himself unstuck in these kinds of situations. And I knew the situation was both entirely safe and entirely within his capabilities. So, I coaxed him to come down and left the room for him to handle this situation on his own. But he was unwilling to take the risk his father told him to take and began balling and screaming at the top of his lungs. I returned only to shut the door (leaving it cracked because he knows how to open a cracked door). Soon, he easily dismounted the trampoline and came crawling out into the family room, sniffling and sobbing as he crawled up into his daddy’s arms.
An unwilling spirit is a powerful force that strikes our joyfulness in Christ so that we cannot grow from the difficult lessons our father intends for our benefit.
“Sustain me by giving me a willing spirit”: the psalmist prays for God’s aid in sustaining him with a “willing spirit” because he knew that his “the flesh is weak”. We all need willing spirits that so that, just as it was Jesus’ joy to do his father’s will, we too can live our lives with the joy of the Lord for our strength.
The pursuit of a willing spirit for the will of the Lord is one that every Christian should join together in seeking from God.