This week could best be described as intense: exciting and joyful, but at other times, agonizing and sometimes immensely painful. This week was a study in contrast…. intense.
It was exciting and joyful to welcome Bishop Cho to Lynchburg and have the honor of participating in a special service, ordaining one of our pastors, Lisa Barbery.
It was agonizing and immensely painful to be called hours before the same ordination service in order to be with a family grieving over the death of their child.
Our lives are often filled with contrasting moments that bring agony or joy, pleasure or pain. There are weddings and there are divorces. There are funerals and there are baptisms.
Psalm 30 seems to be describing such contrasting moments.
Sing to the LORD, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:4-6)
At times God will be angry and disappointed with us and our all-too-human actions but like the ideal parent. Anger and disappointment lasts but a moment. But God’s love lasts a lifetime. Disappointments will come but joy will follow.
When I was prosperous, I said, “Nothing can stop me now!”
Your favor, O LORD, made me as secure as a mountain. (5)
At times we are prosperous and full of confidence. There is a sense of fulfillment and security.
But, at other times:
Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.
I cried out to you, O LORD. I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,
“What will you gain if I die, if I sink into the grave?
Can my dust praise you? Can it tell of your faithfulness? (6-9)
There are times where we are shattered. There is a sense of helplessness and abandonment. At times we experience both intense joy and intense pain. At times we will be full of confidence and hope while at other times? We will be crying out to God, crying out for mercy.
Hear me, LORD, and have mercy on me. Help me, O LORD. (10)
This verse comes and goes so fast you could easily miss God’s prescription:
Hear me. Continue to hear me as I come to you.
Have mercy on me. Have mercy on me when I fall short of your expectations.
Help me. Help me learn and grow in the midst of success and failure.
God’s offers answers in the midst of whatever we experience: God promises to hear us. God promises to have mercy on us. God promises to help us.
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever!
Yes, at times there will be weeks filled with joy and pain but God promises to turn our mourning into joyful dancing, take away our clothes of mourning and clothe us with joy.
So that, we sing praises to God and not be silent. So that, we can give God the thanks, forever.
Joni E. Tada, writes: Lord and Savior, I have every confidence in your character. You are utterly reliable and truthful. Today, I am going to take you at your word even if doubts or fears arise. You have the words of life and I am happy to say, I believe the Lord!
In the midst of intense joy and intense pain, we can rely on a God who will hear us, have mercy on us and will help us. We know that God will ultimately turn our mourning into joyful dancing.
So, I pray with confidence in the character of God.
I pray knowing that God is utterly reliable and truthful.
I pray taking God at His word even as doubts or fears arise.
I pray, knowing God has the words of life and I am happy to say, even in the midst of a week filled with intense moments of joy and pain, I am happy to say:
I believe the Lord!