Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning, Part 2

This blog entry continues the meditation on Psalm 30:5 that I wrote about last week –

“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favour lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

We all have weeping nights and joyful mornings. We experience times of distress and times of blessings – that’s just the natural cycle of life.

What we have to realize is that weeping nights and joyful mornings are partners. Remember the saying, “No pain, no gain”? Many times, to attain the joy in the morning, we have to endure the pain of the night. If you want to rejoice in the day, you first have to go through the sorrow of the night. But take heart, God is with you and He will turn your distress into ecstasy.

David, who wrote this Psalm, experienced this pattern of weeping nights and joyful mornings. He wept when Saul persecuted him and tried to hunt him down to kill him, but he rejoiced when Saul was killed in battle and he became king instead of Saul. David wept when God punished him for the sin of adultery with Bathsheba but after he repented of his sins, he experienced a joyful morning.

One interesting fact about the morning is that morning comes when it is still dark. Morning starts at midnight, while the sky is still pitch black. Yet God tells us that joy can come in the morning, that joy can come while it’s still dark. This shows us that we don’t have to wait until the sun comes out before we can rejoice. Even in the darkness, in the midst of pain and problems, if we surrender our situation to God, we can have the joy of the Lord. So don’t wait until your problems are solved to experience morning’s joy, rejoice in the midst of your darkness! The sun (s-u-n) may not have risen yet, but because the Son (S-o-n) has risen, you can have joy!

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Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning

This blog entry meditates on Psalm 30:5

“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favour lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

When I first read this verse, I was puzzled. What does it mean that weeping will last only for the night? I was puzzled because I’ve been through tough times which had lasted for definitely more than a night. I’ve experienced depression and despair, sometimes for months and some challenges in my life have even gone on for years.

I did some research on the internet about the verse and came across some interesting insights. The first thing is that the verse isn’t to be taken literally. The night represents our bad times, the dark times and the morning represents our good times, the bright days. So when the Psalmist talks about night and day, He isn’t just talking about a literal 12 hour period. He’s talking about our times of blessings and our times of distress.

The interesting thing about day and night is that it is totally natural, the world was designed with night and day as the normal state of things. What this teaches us is that, in the natural state of things, as part of life, we can expect both good times and bad times. Our lives will have both darkness and light. We will receive both blessings and challenges.

The good news that the Psalmist wants to proclaim is that the night isn’t permanent. The Hebrew for the word “remain” is loon, which means “to lodge or stop over”. The word describes a traveller who only lodges at a hotel room, the place isn’t his permanent home, it is just a temporary dwelling place.

A lot of times when we face a problem, we’re tempted to think – oh this will last forever, this will destroy me, this is the end of the line for me. When we think like this during our dark times, we get trapped in fear, depression and despair. But God promises us that our weeping, our suffering, is only going to be temporary. Just as we know for sure that the sun will come out in the morning, so we can be sure that our problem, our painful experience, our suffering is only temporary. When you are in the night, morning will always come. Blessings will always return to relieve your distress, the light will always vanquish the darkness.

The verse can be scary. It tells you that there are things in your life that will make you want to cry, you can’t escape the problems that come from living in a fallen world. But with the bad news comes the comfort of the good news. What makes you weep will be overcome by God’s power. Morning will come and when the good light breaks into your life, you will be filled with joy that comes from the gratitude that you feel for God’s deliverance.

I’ll end with the words of a beautiful song. In the morning we’ll experience:

Light after darkness, gain after loss,
Strength after weakness, crown after cross;
Sweet after bitter, hope after fears,
Home after wandering, praise after tears.
Sheaves after sowing, sun after rain,
Sight after mystery, peace after pain;
Joy after sorrow, calm after blast,
Rest after weariness, sweet rest at last.
Near after distant, gleam after gloom,
Love after loneliness, life after tomb

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Remember the victories that Christ gave you

What can you do when life throws you an obstacle that you feel you cannot overcome? When the storm rises and the darkness surrounds you, it’s natural to start being afraid and as you look at your difficult circumstances, the cold fog of fear and despair start to make your life an absolute misery.

How can you conquer your problems?

A valuable trick I’ve learnt is to remember the victories God has given me. I have faced many problems in my life, but God has consistently rescued me from those difficulties. And for those problems that are still there, God has given me the grace to be patient, so that I can endure those difficulties.

I literally have a victory file in my computer. I write down every victory that God has granted me, so when I face a difficulty, I can look at that file and remind myself that the God who has rescued me in the past, is able and willing to help me in the present. I find myself greatly encouraged by all the testimonies that I’ve written about how God has delivered me and this turns my focus away from the difficulties of my challenge, and on the awesome rescuing power of God.

A favourite song of mine is by Steven Curtis Chapman, “My Redeemer is Faithful and True”. The first verse goes:

“As I look back on this road I’ve travelled

I see so many times He’s carried me through

And if there’s one thing that I’ve learnt in my life

My Redeemer is faithful and true”

By looking back on the road you’ve travelled and reminding yourself of how God has faithfully taken care of you, you will have ammunition against the Enemy. Your mouth can be filled with praise and thanksgiving for all the good times that God has rescued you, instead of focusing on how your present challenge might destroy you.

Remembering God’s victories is something we have to actively work on, as in our natural selves, we tend to have short memories and only react to what we are facing in the present moment. You may have experienced God’s blessings for a month, but when an obstacle comes up, all you can focus on is the obstacle in the moment and you quickly forget what God has done for you in the past.

The Israelites had this terrible short memory and displeased God with their forgetfulness. When Moses led them out of Egypt, God performed an amazing miracle, parting the Red Sea so they could walk on dry land with the waters like towering walls on their side, and then drowning their enemy Pharaoh’s army in the sea.  In Exodus 15, we hear them praising God –

“I will sing to the Lord,
for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
he has hurled into the sea. “

But we find in the next immediate chapter, Exodus 16, the Israelites quickly forgot about how God’s greatness and goodness would provide for them and they descended into bitter grumbling:

The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. 2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.

Within two months, the Israelites had forgotten about the amazing victory that God has granted them! We must guard our minds so that we are not similarly forgetful, but always remind ourselves of God’s love and delivering power.

As for me, I am making the habit of going to my victory file to combat one of my neurotic fears. One of the things that Satan always tempts me to worry about is whether I’ll be able to get a taxi to go where I need to go. So far, God has always provided me with the transport that I needed – praise Him! – but I still find myself tempted to worry that I’ll be stuck somewhere with no means to go where I need to go. One thing which I put in my victory file is an incident that occurred when I was due to go to Bible Study from work on one Friday night. It was raining torrentially. I tried calling for a cab but couldn’t even get through to the system, all the lines were jammed. I had resigned myself to taking the bus and being super-late for Bible Study when a lady and some of her friends stepped out from the lobby. Since I needed to take public transport, I asked the lady if she knew how to get to Bishan MRT train station. The lady gave me the directions then mentioned that she was taking a cab to the MRT train station. I asked her if she would be willing to let me share the cab with her and she agreed. So when the cab arrived, we dropped her off at the MRT station and I took the cab the rest of the way to the home where my Bible Study was being held. Now, I always remember this example of good fortune, which I didn’t expect, to remind myself that God will provide me with the good fortune to get the transport I need if I trust in Him.

Thus I would encourage you to start your own victory file. Writing down your major victories helps you remember them, but a daily habit of thanking God for his help will also show great benefits. Remember all the good things that He’s done for you, so that when the storm hits, you’ll have the shelter of His love to run to.

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If you enjoyed reading this post, please visit my blog again. I try to post a new entry every week, usually on Wednesday.

Making champions out of nobodies

Do you feel that you’ll never do anything great or significant in life? Do you look at high achievers on the television and think – I could never do what they do. Have you resigned yourself to a mediocre life, happy to be average, happy to just get by?

Well, I have good news for you. God has more in store for you. In Ephesians 3:20, God promises to do for us far beyond what we can hope or imagine. He has amazing things lined up for your future but in order to receive those astounding things, you have to get in agreement with him and trust that He will bring those astounding promises to pass.

No matter how low you feel or how far you’ve fallen, God wants to make you a champion. In Romans 8, God tells us that we are more than conquerors through him.

God can use you, no matter how weak you feel. You can be a champion regardless of your background. You don’t need impressive credentials or the right education to qualify to be a champion.

When the world says that you’re no use, God says He can use you. When everyone says you’ll never amount to anything, God says you can amount to something. You are not a failure, you are a champion. You might feel like you’re a weakling, a misfit, a castaway, but God sees great potential in you.

David is a good example of how God made a champion out of a nobody. When Samuel was looking for someone to anoint to be the King of Israel, he went to Jesse’s family and asked to see all his sons. Samuel saw Eliab, who was strong and handsome, and thought surely this was the man God wanted to be King. But God had rejected Eliab. He said – “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Samuel met all seven of Jesse’s sons but the Lord rejected them all. Then Samuel asked Jesse if he had any other sons left and Jesse said his youngest son was tending sheep. Samuel summoned David and when he saw David, He heard the Lord tell him to anoint David as King.

So as you can see, David was King-material, but nobody in his family thought he would amount to anything great. David was a champion, but when He was tending the sheep, only God could look into his heart and see that He had the potential to be a victorious fighter.

Be encouraged by the story of David and don’t be discouraged by what others think of you. Don’t be disheartened by your circumstances. You may be faced with failure after failure. You may be knee deep in debt. You may be abandoned or betrayed by your friends. Take heart. God still has a good plan for your life. He can still use you, so don’t give up.

In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul reminds his readers that:

 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,  so that no one may boast before him.  It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Meditate on this passage and take heart! If you are weak, lowly and despised, you’re just the person God is looking for. Take your eyes off your weaknesses and focus on how God can transform you, changing you from a nobody to a champion. If you put your trust in Him, He will fill you with His strength and pour his gifts into your life, and you’ll find the life of victory that you’ve always wanted.

 

Wait for the happy ending

When disaster strikes, our first instinct might be to let fear overtake us. When something bad happens to us, our brain starts racing as we worry, thinking of all sorts of further bad things that might happen.

But take heart – if you study the Bible, you’ll find the assurance that when something bad happens, God will help you overcome it.

Our life is like a story written by God. And He promises that our story will have a happy ending. Romans 8 is full of the powerful promises that God will work all things out for our good, that we are more than conquerors over all our trials and that nothing can separate us from His love.

The fact that God works out a happy ending even in the most dire situations can be seen in the life of Joseph. When Joseph was young, he had a dream that he would be a great ruler and that his brothers would bow down to him. After he told his brothers about the dream, the brothers became envious of Joseph and nursed a deep hate for him. Eventually, they beat him up and sold him to some slave traders who were on the way to Egypt. So Joseph became a slave to a man called Potiphar. Surely if you were Joseph you would have been tempted to be discouraged and fearful, now that you were a slave and think that your life would be going downhill from there. But this wasn’t the case. Even in the depths of slavery, God worked for Joseph’s good and Joseph flourished in his role as a slave, becoming the man in charge of all of Potiphar’s affairs. Just when things were looking up for Joseph, disaster struck again. Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him and when he resisted, she accused him of rape and Joseph was thrown in jail. Surely this time, rotting in a dank prison, Joseph might be tempted to give in to despair and think that he only had death to look forward to. But God amazingly blessed him, even in jail and Joseph helped the jailer run the prison. It was in prison that he met Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer. He helped the chief cup-bearer interpret his dream and when Pharaoh had a dream that he didn’t understand, the chief cup-bearer remembered Joseph and Joseph was brought before the ruler of Egypt. Joseph successfully interpreted the dream and Pharaoh put him in charge of all of Egypt. Thus as it can be seen in the story of Joseph, even slavery, false accusations, jail couldn’t hold back a man like Joseph, who loved and trusted God.

In the New Testament, the story of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection is one we can always turn to, to remind us that God will provide a happy ending to our lives. Christ was mocked and reviled, tortured to death. But death wasn’t the end of the story. On the third day, he rose from the dead, triumphant and now He is in heaven interceding for us at the right hand of the throne of God.

Are you facing an insurmountable obstacle and encountered a crushing set-back? Don’t be worried, God is writing the story of your life and He is not done yet. If you will be patient and trust Him, you will see Him moving things to benefit you, and your life will have the happy ending that He promises.