Today is Monday, March 23! We are embarking on our fourth week of Lent. Thanks to all of you have joined us recently, and everyone who has been faithful to our journey since the first day! My name is Gina. Let’s get started on our scripture reading, reflection and prayer!
Theme: Joy comes in the morning
Scripture: Psalm 30:1–6, 11–13
I could ask, “Have you ever felt like a situation might go on forever?” But I probably don’t need to ask. Almost all of us, no matter where we are in the world, are affected in some way by the lengthening shadow of the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Who among us hasn’t asked ourselves, “How long is this going to last?” Some of us who thought it would blow over in a week or two may be starting to wonder if the expanding ripple effect will last for months or even years.
This Psalm expresses a similar sentiment, but it’s written in hindsight. The writer remembers his overconfidence in his prior time of prosperity. He thought, then, that his success and security would last forever. But, the prosperity and security suddenly dried up. He was filled with fear and panic.
The writer is looking back on these dark days from a new time of flourishing and security. He proclaims a deeply comforting truth: “Weeping may go on all night, but in the morning there is joy.”
Some of us have already experienced a time of pain or darkness in our lives when we wondered if there would ever be light again.
You may have lost a loved one, or lost something else precious, such as a way of life that you treasured, or a dream you cherished but has since died. You grieve, and you grieve, and you wonder if you will ever be happy again.
Some may have experienced terrible insecurity, forced to leave family and community because of persecution, violence or war. And no matter how hard you have tried, you haven’t found a new place to settle down and start over.
Some might think you’re never going to find a marriage partner or get pregnant; find a job; get out of debt; experience a day without chronic pain; escape abuse or the life-changing effects of abuse or trauma. You might feel that your stressful situation, whatever it is, will never be over.
There was one winter where I was struck harder with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) than ever before in my life. I was used to getting a little melancholy in winter, especially if I lived somewhere that was too cloudy and rainy for long periods of time. But one particular winter was worse than any I had gone through before. What made it so much worse this time was a prescription medication my doctor had given me, without telling me it caused depression as a side effect.
That winter it was rainy and grey every day for months, and I had no pleasure in anything at all. Trying to do even the simplest tasks and chores felt like a monumental effort. I wanted nothing more than to sleep, all the time. The days went on and on, with no end, and I was terrified that I had changed permanently. I wondered if I would be this depressed for the rest of my life.
Then, I was out walking on an unusually sunny day to get a little fresh air and exercise. For the first time, after seemingly endless months of just no color anywhere in the world, I noticed tiny green buds of leaves uncurling on the shrubs and trees. Examining those little gleaming buds of hope, I clearly heard words from God take shape in my mind, saying, “I can do the same for you.”
I stopped and stared at that shrub. While normally I do not hear so clearly from God as that, I knew without a doubt that the Creator of everything had just spoken to me. He had made me a promise that I would have new life again. He didn’t tell me when, but I clung to that lifeline of hope for the next few weeks. I soon learned from my doctor about the side effect from that prescription, and we changed my medicine. Spring was coming; sun and longer days came with that spring. The rain gradually decreased and, slowly, my normally joyful self was restored.
There is a similar hope in this scripture. We may not know when, but as the writer promises, weeping may last for the night, but joy will come in the morning.
Cory Asbury, a Christian songwriter, wrote a simple and beautifully comforting song based on this passage, called “Always Faithful.” It says*,
I sought the Lord, and He heard my cry
And He answered me
Though weeping endures for the night
Your joy comes in the morning
Though sorrow may last for a time
Your joy comes in the morning
Faithful, You’re always faithful
True, You’re always true
You’ll never leave me, You’re always with me
You’re good, You’re good
If there’s a time when you have felt “on the brink of the grave”, as the Psalm-writer says, God can and will bring you back. He can and will make you laugh and smile again.
- How do I cope, or where do I turn, when it feels like a painful situation or my pain is going to last forever?
- If I’m experiencing a time like this now, how is God speaking to me through today’s Psalm?
- How can I seek comfort and peace in God’s presence during my times of difficulty?
Our close and loving Father,
You’re always faithful. You’re always true. You’ll never leave us. You’re always with us. You’re good to us. Always good.
When we go through uncertain or dark times that stretch our endurance and patience to the breaking point, we ask You for more strength, more peace, and more endurance. Be close to us in the midst of our long nights of anxiety, uncertainty, insecurity, grief and pain. Help us to believe and hold fast for the morning when You will restore us to full joy and the abundant life in You that you’ve promised us.
As we wait on You, please also use us to encourage others who are struggling and waiting. Use our voices to comfort and strengthen others.
Thank You for never leaving us, neither during the long dark nights, nor the joyful, dazzling mornings of a new day in You.
We need You, our Father. And we pray this in the name of Your Son, Jesus, who also spent a long, dark night in the Garden of Gethsemane; who endured torture and crucifixion, but who was resurrected one morning. A resurrection that gives us hope and belief that our morning of resurrection will come, too. We pray this in Your name, Jesus. Amen.
*“Let Me See Your Eyes” (2009) Forerunner Music; writer(s): Cory Asbury, Seth Yates, Anna Asbury, James Wells, Jaye Thomas, David Whitworth