Sorrow to Joy: Morning after the Mourning
I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and did not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” By your favor, O Lord, you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed.
To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord I made supplication: “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!”
You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever. ~ Psalm 30
"You can never get to the joy if you dare not cry, if you do not have the courage to weep, if you don't take the opportunity to experience the pain...if you don't mourn, you can become bitter. All your grief can go right into your deepest self and sit there for the rest of your life." ~ Henri Nouwen
I've always seen this Psalm as a joyful cry to God. Joy! That's what God wants for us. Joy is the ultimate gift.
But as I read Henri Nouwen's quote, I see this Psalm in a new way. As loss enters our life, the only way to the joy of the morning is through the grief of the mourning.
And loss does enter our life. All of our lives. Frequently. From the moment we are born - losing the safety of our mother's womb - throughout our lives. We lose friends, pets, loved ones. We lose freedom and independence.
And ultimately we lose life itself.
There's another quote I've heard - not sure where it originated - but it is similar to Nouwen's. And I've found it to be true. The only way past pain is through it. You can't go around it. You can't circumvent it.
You have to go through it.
Our lives aren't meant to be defined by loss. It isn't where we are meant to stay.
But first things first. First we mourn the loss. Truly. Fully. And then, joy will come. Dancing will come. Again.
- What is the loss you have felt most keenly? How did you grieve it?
- When is a time you found joy after grief?
Holy One, lead me, push me, pull me, prompt me along this journey of faith. Keep my footsteps sure and my eyes fixed on the places you would send me. Amen