“Deeper” by Liv Vardy (livvardyart.com.au)
As I’m sure you have discovered, during difficult times people can offer some “interesting” (and seemingly shallow) advice. For example, phrases like, “time heals all”, or “you will get over it, we all do”, or “don’t take yourself so seriously”, and of course, “things will all work out ok, so don’t worry”. Often said with the best of intentions, but seldom very comforting!
The psalmist in Psalm 30 offers some deeper and more helpful thoughts (helpful due to the fact of the reality of God), and these from his own experience. He says:
4 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favour lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
The reality is that “the story of God is a story of reversals, of one who turns the tides of history, who brings down the powerful from their thrones and lifts up the lowly.” (Pauline Hoggarth, Encounter with God SU Notes) And, on top of this, the One who is able to transform our life’s situations from weeping into rejoicing, and that, even overnight at times.
Consider the Passion Translation on these verses:
I’ve learned that his anger lasts for a moment,
but his loving favour lasts a lifetime!
We may weep through the night,
but at daybreak it will turn into shouts of ecstatic joy.
Another psalmist confirms these truths:
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them. (Psalm 126:5-6)
The writers of the NT add another dimension to this truth. Paul writes:
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Psalm 30 continues:
6 When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
7 Lord, when you favoured me,
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.
8 To you, Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
9 “What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”
11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.
A.B. Rhodes summarizes the narrative as follows:
“In his prosperity the psalmist was guilty of self-sufficiency and a false sense of security. Yet it was God who had established him. Then, as a result of his self-sufficiency and perhaps other sins as well, God removed his favour and the psalmist was sorely troubled. In his illness he cried to God for help. With childlike simplicity he reminded God that his death would mean that he could not praise him further, since those in the Pit could not praise God. But God had granted his petition and turned his mourning into dancing, the sackcloth of sorrow into the festal garments of praise. Faith in God, communion with God, and joyful thanksgiving to God are the keynotes of this psalm.” (see references # 40)
Suffering of any kind is never fun, and we certainly need to be compassionate and supportive (often in very practical ways) with those in our lives who do suffer, But in the midst of our suffering it is vital to remember God’s promises, such as:
The Mighty One, God, the Lord,
speaks…call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you… (Psalm 50:1, 15).
Too often, Father, we get so caught up in our troubles that the last resort is prayer. Teach us to make calling out to you in the day of trouble the very first thing we do, knowing that you are able to deliver us in your good time. Teach us the truth also that our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. Enable us to fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Enable us day by day to go deeper with you! Amen.