For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye, *
his favor for a lifetime .
Weeping may spend the night, *
but joy comes in the morning .
- Psalm 30:5-6
The Easter message is that death and suffering never have the final word - that new life is always on their heels. Those of us who follow in Jesus’ way are resurrection people, who trust this is so, even when it’s hard to trust it. Today, as I write this blog, the sun is shining brightly and there is not a cloud in the sky. It’s a welcome change in what has been a rather gray, wet spring. The birds are singing and the Korean lilac outside my window is just about ready to burst forth into bloom. How can I not feel hope and the promise of new life on a day as lovely as today?
And yet, at the same time, more mass shootings are taking place at houses of worship. The news of the day continues to bring a sense of chaotic change into our lives and homes. We are hearing about regular and dire weather disasters, increasing hate crimes, and homeless refugees all over the world. On top of all that, the local hospital is still full of people who are suffering or in pain, and each of us has our own piece of the universal pain of the world. There are so many people across our country and the globe for whom God’s wrath must seem far more enduring than just a twinkling of an eye or more lasting than just one bad night. How can the psalmist, who also lived during tumultuous times, make the audacious claim that God’s favor is with us and that joy always comes in the morning?
It’s a good question. And it is at the heart of what it means to be faithful, and being faithful is at the heart of being human. If this were not so, I think people would be giving up hope left and right. And yet most of the time we do not. We move forward, even in tough times, even through suffering - still stubbornly hoping for the joy that will come in the morning.
That is God’s eternal promise. That no matter how dark the night, the sun will rise. No matter how tough the situation, God’s love is present. No matter how hopeless things seem, new life, like a seed, is waiting to sprout. This is indeed an audacious claim, and also a life giving one. For while there is no way to predict when joy may arrive, Jesus said that he shared himself, his words and his actions (even the events of Holy Week) with us so that his joy will be in us and our joy will be complete. A life of faith does not mean that a certain joyful reward is waiting for us at any particular time, but it does promise the possibility of a moment to moment joyful hope - one that trusts, even in the midst of hardship, that joy is not only coming, but is indeed already here - even when we cannot see, hear or feel it.
A life of faith is a life of trust and hope not just in the future, but in the present moment - right here between, among and within us. Let us be that hope and joy and love for one another.