Acts 9:1-6, (7-20); Psalm 30; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19
Was it sickness? Was it loss? Was it physical danger? Was it sadness or depression? What circumstances caused the writer to feel in ‘the pit’ or in the ‘realm of the dead’? Why did the author of Psalm 30 anticipate ‘enemies gloating’ over his circumstances?
This person had, at some point, felt ‘secure’ enough that they believed they would ‘never be shaken’. Let me remind you that our present circumstances are always teetering on the brink of change.
So notice the lows and highs of the author’s roller coaster ride in Psalm 30:
I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.
Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
Lord, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.
To you, Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever. – Psalm 30 (NLT)
It seems as though there is an inevitability to this process: we naturally revel in our security as if it is permanent and deserved but trouble is always only a breath away.
Sure enough, as the Psalmist’s testimony reveals its widest truths, we learn that this victim is now recovering and in a place of ‘dancing’ and ‘joy’.
C S Lewis has written famously about joy but in a separate letter he describes it this way: ‘Real joy seems to me almost as unlike security or prosperity as it is unlike agony…’ and explains further by contrasting it in a way we wouldn’t expect, ‘…joy is worth 12 hours of Pleasure.’ Elsewhere he describes joy as more in the pursuit of something than in the possession of it.
A panoramic snapshot of life: pleasure is comfortable but fleeting, trouble is overwhelming but temporary, joy is desirable but elusive.
The Psalmist’s rhetorical question, ‘Will the dust praise you?’ has always intrigued me. Contained in those words and God’s response to them, is the implication that God values life over death as much as we do. I want you to digest and implant this thought: God values life; it is His primary preoccupation.
And life isn’t just a tale about going to heaven some day and leaving this old world behind; this is a reminder that this life matters so we take each step as it comes with ultimate trust in the goodness of the same God the Psalmist enthuses about.
In the final analysis, he is realizing that God rescues, brings resolution and life and He ensures that ultimately, ‘rejoicing comes in the morning’.
When is the morning? Well, it’s found in joy.
~ ~ ~
Oh, and let’s get this out of the way…
‘May the fourth be with you.’
(‘And with you.’)