Psalm 30:5 (NRSV)
5 For his anger is but for a moment;
his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
This verse from the Book of Psalms gives us a glimpse into the mind and time of David, when it was not uncommon for plague, famine, or misfortune to shape an entire generation. Such dark times were construed as a punishment from God, and the people would give penance to receive God’s blessing and favor would then be restored.
David knew of heartbreak, worry, and anxiety. He is the one who had to flee King Saul (his father-in-law!) who wanted him dead. He is the one who had children who attempted to overtake his crown. He had to mourn the death of several of his children, and even caused a deadly plague amongst his people for ignoring God. There’s a reason David writes about weeping.
Perhaps some of us have felt David’s despair these last few months. We may feel like we are being punished and wonder how we can make things right, or we may wonder “Why me?” as our lives have been turned upside down. We search for silver linings as the pandemic affects our daily habits, jobs, and loved ones.
If we take a glass half full approach, we can find things to be thankful for. While I am forced to work remotely at home, the day lends additional time with my wife and children, especially my newborn. I am thankful for new habits formed during this period – the new exercise and reading routines or the ease and slowness of our evenings. While this time has felt heavy, I have been able to find the “joy” easily most days.
But there are many that relate far more to the anguish David writes about. Those that have been laid off and are fearful of the economic future. Those that are stressed about their children’s education, or those that are suffering from depression and anxiety from isolation. And then those who have experienced the ultimate anguish of losing a loved one.
And yet David knew even the darkest hours were ultimately temporary. No matter how painful, he reminds us that suffering is finite and the morning is ahead. And then a thousand years after David, as Jesus hung on the cross, He reminds the thief hanging next to him of this same promise – paradise was coming.
During this pandemic, the darkness of “night” for you may mean more inconveniences, hassles, and nuisances. Or maybe this period brought some of life’s most difficult heartbreaks and your anguish mirrors David’s. But while there is still much uncertainty around us, there is one thing we can be certain of: Darkness is fleeting, and joy comes in the morning.
Darkness in this world is inevitable. As many times as I try to avoid it, or distract myself from it, it still comes. Sometimes darkness comes in simple moments or in ways that just make for bad days. But then sometimes there is the darkness that overwhelms me. In the darkness, Lord, remind me of your promise. Help me to feel your presence and assurance that the darkness is fleeting and that you will never leave me. Even in the darkness, I know you are there. Let me be reminded God, that your favor is for a lifetime, and joy comes in the morning. Amen.