REJOICING PRAYERS – PSALM 30
Lesson 6 of Psalms: Lessons in Prayer
by Eric Elder
You can listen to today’s psalm here:
Psalm 30, read by Lana Elder, with music by Franz Joseph Haydn played by Marilyn Elder Byrnes
Today’s psalm reminds me that there are seasons for everything. Here in Illinois, summers are hot, over 100 degrees Fahrenheit many days. Winters are cold, often below 32 F for many days, with snowstorms that block us in our homes for hours. Spring and fall are beautiful, with budding flowers and blossoming trees in the spring, and changing leaves and crisp, cool nights in the fall.
As George Carlin says (in what is probably the most accurate weather forecast of all time):
“The weather will continue to change on and off for a long, long time.”
The seasons in our life change, too. And as much as I sometimes wish things would never change, there are definitely times when I wish they would: like living through the pain of losing my wife to cancer, for instance. Thankfully, God promises that the hard times we go through won’t last forever, that the pain we may be facing now can one day be behind us.
As King David said in Psalm 30:
“Sing to the Lord , you saints of His; praise His holy name. For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
Sometimes it’s hard to believe, but it’s true: “Rejoicing comes in the morning.”
When I first went through the book of psalms five years ago, looking for ways to pray more effectively, my wife was going through her cancer treatments. Things looked bleak, and they turned out even bleaker, as she passed away just nine months after her initial diagnosis. I couldn’t see anything in the future other than blank, gray days of nothingness. There was nothing that I could imagine ahead for me if she were to die.
As I read this psalm back then, I wrote some notes to myself:
“God says that weeping lasts for but a moment, and in light of eternity He’s right, even if it seems longer than a moment here. Rejoicing comes in the morning. Wailing turns into dancing.”
I couldn’t see far enough ahead at the time to know what was going to happen or to know if that would ever be true for me. But it’s been five years now since I first took those notes, and I can look back now and see how true those words were. God was right. He really did bring back my joy. He eventually turned my wailing into dancing.
But in the midst of that painful season, I didn’t even want to think about rejoicing some day. I didn’t want to think about dancing some day in the future, or any time in the future. I just wanted things to go back to the way they were before tragedy hit, before our lives were turned upside down.
At that time, I was asked if I would be willing to film an interview to give people hope who were facing terminal illness. I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to talk about it. I frankly didn’t know what I could say. Saying anything was like admitting that the prognosis in our case was, in fact, terminal. But I felt God wanted me to do it, so I did, and the film team called the short interview Eric’s Hope. A few months later, and two weeks before my wife died, a couple more people from the team came to our house to film another interview, this time with our whole family. They called it Lana’s Hope. (You can watch both interviews online by clicking their links).
One of the things I remember distinctly at that time was a conversation with the woman who asked me to do the interviews. She was writing a screenplay for a feature film they were going to be making in Hollywood based on a fictional story of a woman facing terminal cancer. She asked me if I wanted to know what happens at the end of the movie. I said, “No, I really don’t.”
She said, “It’s good. You might want to hear it.”
I said, again, “No, I really don’t.”
I didn’t want to hear that someday everything would get better for the husband in the movie, or that he got married again or something, and that somehow, some way, everything turned out to be okay. I didn’t know how the movie was going to end, but I didn’t want to know, because whatever it was, it couldn’t possibly be better than it was for me and our family before my wife got sick. I couldn’t imagine having to live in this world without her, and I didn’t want to have to think about it.
But you know what? That Hollywood movie came out last fall in theaters, and online just a few weeks ago, so I watched it Friday night. There were still moments that were hard, but you know what? I realized I no longer had that stabbing pain I once had. And the ending was touching, sweet, and hopeful, even if things would never be the same as they were before. (The movie is called New Life, and you can stream it from iTunes or Amazon by clicking on their links, or you can get the disc from a variety of stores.)
My life isn’t the same as it was before our lives took that turn. And it never will be. But I have seen God turn my weeping into rejoicing, my wailing into dancing. Things do change, and sometimes, very thankfully so. As Mark Twain is credited as saying:
“If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.”
I sometimes wish things would never change. But that’s as unlikely as wishing the weather would never change.
When praying, keep in mind there are seasons in life, too. Too hot? Just wait. Too cold? Hang on a bit. Weeping? Rejoicing comes in the morning. Wailing? God can turn it into dancing.
No, things may not go back to the way they were before. But the truth is that as much as I sometimes wish things would never change, there are definitely times when I am thankful that they do.
“Sing to the Lord, you saints of His; praise His holy name. For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
Will you pray with me?
Father God, thank You for the changing seasons, and thank You for the changing seasons in our lives. I pray that You would give us hope today in the fact that some things DO change, that things WON’T always be the same as they are now, and that there are times when that is the BEST way for You to work in and through our lives the way that You want to. Help us to keep putting our trust and faith in You, for as much as things here on earth may change, You never do In Jesus’ name, Amen.
P.S. We’ll be taking a break from the Psalms for the next two weeks, then we’ll return to them again after Easter. Now’s a great time to catch up if you’re behind in reading along through the Psalm with us! Here’s the reading plan for the year:
2017 Reading Plan for Psalms
And here’s the link once more to today’s scripture reading:
Psalm 30, read by Lana Elder, with Franz Joseph Haydn’s “Country Minuet” played by Marilyn Elder Byrnes