A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…
Ecclesiastes 3:4 ESV
The cycle of life.
I remember the song associated with this verse. I can still hear the Byrds singing this on my little transistor radio:
To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven [i]
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”right”]The contrasts have made the celebrations all the sweeter.[/pullquote]This year more than any other that I can remember, I have lived this song. Two of my aunts have died. It’s been the year of the babies, as I have a new grandson, new grand-nephew, and several new grandbabies for friends. In July, we attended my nephew’s wedding; my husband got a new job; we found a new church. There’s also a great deal of sadness as our family deals with all types of health issues.
Throughout the year I have laughed so hard until tears have come down from my eyes, and wept with the same results.
The contrasts have made the celebrations all the sweeter.
Isn’t it nice how God counters the sadness with joy?
As I write this, it is the beginning of Lent, a time of reflection and repentance. The people of God take this time to prepare for Easter, but before we can experience Easter we must go through Good Friday.
Easter is everything in our faith. Good Friday is devastating … and necessary.
When I was a young girl in the Lutheran Church, every Good Friday we sang:
Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See Him dying on the tree!
‘Tis the Christ by man rejected;
Yes, my soul, ’tis He, ’tis He!
Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
Was there ever grief like His?
Friends through fear His cause disowning,
Foes insulting His distress;
Many hands were raised to wound Him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him
Was the stroke that Justice gave. [ii]
This gives a brief picture of what happened on the day that Jesus was crucified. Horrible, horrible day. And he went through all of this for our benefit, for our freedom, for our new relationship with God.
But it wasn’t the end of the story. God had much more in store. Many people were given the opportunity to rejoice when they saw the One who died, now alive, walking and eating with them.
On Easter morning we sang:
I know that my Redeemer lives!
What joy this blest assurance gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead;
he lives, my ever-living Head!
He lives triumphant from the grave;
he lives eternally to save;
he lives exalted, throned above;
he lives to rule his church in love. [iii]
What does all of this tell me? Life is full of contrasts. The sad with the happy. The good with the bad. I guess this is my hope: In the bad seasons of life there will eventually come good seasons. If I can bear the sorrows, I will again have joys. God never promised me continual happiness in this world, despite what some have told me about coming to Him. Rather He has promised to be with me through it all…the joys and sorrows. He’s also promised that those who follow Him to the end will move into the reality of His kingdom. Then and only then, will we live in continual celebration. Because He says there will no longer be tears or sorrow, but He will make everything new. [iv]
[i] Song written by Pete Seeger.
[ii] Portions of the hymn by Thomas Kelly
[iii] Hymn by Samuel Medley
[iv] Revelation 21:4-5