Joy in the Mourning

     One of the most important things we teach our children is manners. At an early age they learn to parrot back the proper response to “What do you say?” when they have been given something. Please and thank you are ingrained in them, and the smart ones realize as they grow up that a heartfelt please and thank you will help them go far in life.

     At the dedication of David’s palace, he remembered his manners. He invited others to join in with a hearty “thank you” to God for the gift of this place. David was acutely aware of God’s power and provision in his life and this special celebration was no exception. He marked with day with gratitude, joy, dancing, and revelry, making sure that God got all the praise and attention.

     David had known a lot of sadness in his life. From the falling out with his hero Saul, to the death of his firstborn, David had experienced grief.

Psalm 30 (Common English Bible)

You who are faithful to the Lord,
    sing praises to him;
    give thanks to his holy name!
His anger lasts for only a second,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime.
Weeping may stay all night,
    but by morning, joy!

11 You changed my mourning into dancing.
    You took off my funeral clothes
        and dressed me up in joy
12     so that my whole being
    might sing praises to you and never stop.
Lord, my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

     I love the beautiful set of contrasts in this passage. Anger and favor, night and morning, weeping and joy … we can see David’s grasp on the ups and downs of life, and it is a relief when he lands on singing praise at the end.

     It is good to remember that joy follows weeping when we are grieving the loss of someone or something important. There is a certainty in the rising of the sun every morning that brings comfort to the dark 3:00 am moments when we are so troubled, we can’t sleep. Hang on, this psalm advises. Joy will come.

     This passage literally says, “weeping will spend the night.” We are reminded of that houseguest we barely tolerate as we look forward to their departure. Have you ever counted the days until a houseguest leaves? I have! The good news is that grief has an appointed check-out time, and we can anticipate finding joy when it finally begins to abate. Grief may return again, but with God’s help we learn to accommodate it in better ways as time goes on. God’s word in this psalm is a reminder that sadness can turn into gladness with the passing of time and the remembering of God’s great works …and with good grief counseling. When you’re sad, it really helps to talk to someone.

     It also helps to remember that the sorrow of the night of the crucifixion was followed by the joy that came on Easter morning when the tomb was found to be empty. Facing grief with the surety of the resurrection can soothe even the most troubled heart.

     Focusing on the greatness of God helped David get through the tough moments of his life. That can help us, too. Psalm 30 reminds us that God can help us take off our funeral clothes and dress us up in joy if we yield our sadness to the power of the Holy Spirit.

May joy come in your mourning as you seek God’s face.

Joy in Bloom by Kathy Schumacher

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