You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. (Psalm 30:11–12)
We head to church this weekend with heavy hearts. The cloud of the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision hangs over our corporate worship — and we don’t even yet know or feel all the consequences of the historic decision. The sense of sadness over a political decision is unlike many of us in the Christian community have experienced in our young lifetimes — the nationwide legalization of so-called same-sex marriage in the highest, most powerful court of our land.
Sadness and grief are unavoidable, even critical, to the Christian life (Romans 8:17, 35–37). But in Christ, they never need be the dominant or prevailing condition of our souls. The emotions may be overwhelming for a time — disappointment, depression, or disgust. However, for all who have been rescued from sin and promised an eternity of sinless safety and satisfaction, sadness will not ultimately win the day.
The Eyes of Faith in the Face of Defeat
David knew nights of intense terror and grief, and he knew the relentless, reliable, and irresistible power of our joy in God.
I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have 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 have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. (Psalm 30:1–3)
David looked in every direction and saw defeat. His opponents were bigger, stronger, and more in number. His circumstances suggested all was lost. But God. God rushes to offer help to the helpless, to bring healing to the broken, to restore life to the dying, despairing, and defeated.
In fact, God never left. For those who are his, he is never far off. His help, his healing, his life, and his joy are ever-present, however dark our days may be.
Joy in the Mourning
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:4–5)
Where sin is tolerated and even legislated, we will see the wrath of God. God’s holiness and justice cannot coexist with proud (though pitiful) marches against his name and his will. The world will taste the consequences of its iniquity, and God will be vindicated — every decision judged, every sin punished.
But God’s wrath and judgment are not the only word for our sin-sick world. We all deserve his anger for millennia and more (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Left alone in our sin, we’d all weep every morning, noon, and night for the rest of our lives. But the God of infinite justice is also a God of immeasurable mercy. Therefore: “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
For those with faith in God, no setback, no misery, no loss can be lasting. Christ conquers our greatest fears and pains, not always swiftly, but surely. The suffering and loss cannot outlast the life he purchased for us on the cross. For the Christian, joy comes with the morning, after the morning, and in the mourning. And so we sing (Psalm 30:4), even in the midst of severe sadness.
Real Pain, Real Opposition
As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” By your favor, O Lord, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed. To you, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy. (Psalm 30:6–8)
As the American soil underneath our feet trembles, threatening to crack and crumble, we know where we stand. The God who reigns and rules over every person on earth — redeemed or rebel — promises to keep and secure all who trust in him. Lest we trust in our strength, our wisdom, our success, our wealth, he may allow the ground to shake under our feet. But he brings the tremors — real confusion, real suffering, real opposition — so that we’ll put our trust in him — so that we will stand and not fall, so that we will live and not die.
Another Dark Friday
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (Psalm 30:11–12)
Christians have known dark and devastating Fridays. The God of the universe, of our tiny nation, and of the very creation and institution of marriage died one Friday — an infinitely greater sorrow and surrender. And he rose again in victory that Sunday. Sin has won its battles before, but we have an unshakeable and undefeatable hope in this war. With God, our mourning — of whatever kind — melts to dancing. Our sackcloth eventually burns away, uncovering brilliant, untouchable gladness.
Therefore, with heavy and hurting hearts, we will not be silent. We can not. Against all the world’s expectations, we will rejoice and sing this Sunday and every day until Christ returns to claim his victory — men and women redeemed by his blood and rejoicing in his favor forevermore.