Tuesday, April 2 — Tears and Joy


Tuesday, April 2 — Tears and Joy

Psalm 126
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves. 

The Psalm suggests that there is a connection between a willingness to feel the grief that life invariably brings us and the capacity to deeply experience joy.  The imagery conjures up tears as a kind of seed-sowing that brings forth a harvest of joy.

Given our druthers, we would rather have the joy without going through the sorrow.  But that isn’t the way life works.  It’s a package deal.  We see this clearly in the life of Jesus:  he is both “the man of sorrows” and the guy the Pharisees criticize for letting loose and enjoying a good party.  The same open-heartedness that lets in joy will let in sorrow —  walling off one means walling off both.

There is also the unavoidable truth that life can only be gauged in terms of contrast. In the imagery of psalm the watercourses are all the more wondrous in an arid, dry setting and freedom is fully appreciated only in the context of having once known bondage.

In our own experience, we know that to truly cherish the gift of companionship we have to know something of the experience of loneliness. The significance of authentic goodness is only known when compared to the horror of evil.

There is an extraordinary patience and perseverance to the Jewish faith out of which our Christian faith arose.  Over the centuries other groups of people that once shared a common identity have disappeared from the face of the earth, but the Jewish people have maintained their identity through repeatedly remembering the story of their roots. It is a story that includes extraordinary hardship and grief – from the bondage to Pharaoh and the Babylonian Exile right down to the Holocaust of the 20th century.  But it is also a story that testifies to the power of perseverance and the conviction that over time the times of deep darkness will give way with the re-appearance of the light.

Where have you known what it is to persevere in your life, or the life of people you know?

Where have you experienced a joy that would not have been known except for the pain you traveled through to reach the joy?