From Mourning to Joy

Today’s scripture: Psalm 30 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Steve Adams):

The quest for truth, meaning, and love! Isn’t that the essence of life? How rich it can be for the spiritual searcher to discover expressions of the same (or similar) reality from different sources, and — by the process of comparing and contrasting — arrive at a deeper understanding of truth. By reading different words that point to how God rescues us from physical and emotional death, we can immerse ourselves in nuances of meaning that enable us to see the love of God more clearly and vividly — to the point where we internalize it and become one with that love. This can lead to a rich tapestry of truth in the depth of our souls! And, in case this sounds overly poetic and idealistic — we NEED to weave as rich a tapestry as possible because life, as utterly fantastic as it is, is also at times frustrating, futile, heartbreaking, lonely — and, let’s face it, our fantastic voyage here on earth ends the same for each of us — bodily death.

So let’s be compulsive shoppers! For truth! Whenever we find a precious gem, let’s rejoice more deeply than the shopper who finds exactly what they want at an unbelievable markdown price!  Does it matter what store we find the gem in? Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, Meijer? No! Part of deep, authentic Christianity is loving the truth, even if it comes from an unexpected source. II Thessalonians 2:10 has a wonderful phrase, “love of the truth.” Even though it’s talking about something very sad — people who have been deceived because they didn’t love the truth — the phrase itself communicates a wonderful quality of those who value spiritual discovery. When we become fully aware of this innate love within us, we become willing to go wherever it takes us! Brian McLaren has a new book out that I’m looking forward to reading — “Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?” As I understand it, it’s about being a strong, convinced Christian, yet also seeking and benefiting from the truths that other faiths can offer.

But I don’t want to get off track and miss the gems in Psalm 30, our text for today. The Living Bible expresses it beautifully: “You brought me back from the brink of the grave, from death itself, and here I am alive!… Suddenly my courage was gone; I was terrified and panic-stricken.  I cried to you, O Lord; oh, how I pled…Then he turned my sorrow into joy! He took away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy so that I might sing glad praises to the Lord instead of lying in silence in the grave. O Lord my God, I will keep on thanking you forever! Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Living Bible) How about memorizing some or all of these words, and bringing them to mind when you’re really hurting physically and/or emotionally? Sounds like a great idea for 2014!

But back to the tapestry. How about weaving some strands of truth from other sources, so our clothes of joy (Psalm 30:12) are even more substantial, able to protect us when frigid, brutal winds attack our souls.

Jesus — If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will save it. Matthew 10:39

Apostle Paul — For it is a fact that I face death daily. I Corinthians 15:31a

Rumi (12th century Sufi poet) — I don’t even know if I am or I am not. When I think I am, I find myself worthless, when I think I am not, I find my value. Like my thoughts I die and rise again each day. So how can I doubt the resurrection? (translation by Coleman Barks).

So Rumi provides us with some extraordinary insight. Are writers such as this so inspired that they give us God’s word, in addition to what we find in the Bible? That’s a question each Christian can answer for themselves. Whatever your belief, I rejoice at eloquence such as this!

Thought for the Day: The fear and desolation we sometimes experience enables us to value God’s beauty, strength and bountifulness more highly, and to seek it above all else. The inevitable ups and downs of life help us realize that nothing’s more important than immersing ourselves in discovery of GOD, and receiving the insights God wants to give us.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.