On 10th November 2002, I went to bed after playing some pool with friends in Pollock Halls. Early the next morning, my stomach cramped up and I spent most of the rest of the time that I should have been sleeping vomiting into a bucket. The next morning, I cried for such a long time that a couple of the girls in the halls next to me came to my door to ask me if I was ok and to ask if I needed anything. I never forgot that kindness. It was the first time I had been properly sick since leaving home and I missed having my mum around to look after me.
I didn’t think that it would be fifteen years until I cried again, but that’s exactly what happened. I do not know why I have been unable to cry for so long, since during that time I’ve had heartbreak, deaths, illness, disappointment, and all the other whips and scorns of time, as well as weddings, glorious sporting results, getting a PhD, and running half marathons, the delight of a man’s heart.
I walked away from someone who wasn’t a Christian who wanted to marry me. I unlocked secrets of the universe and depression stopped me from telling many people about it. I heard (and didn’t believe) gossip that would destroy marriages and ruin careers. I watched as a man collapsed and died. I have had my internal monologue talk me out of asking good Christian women out and saw as another man asked them instead. I have felt feelings that I may never fully understand. And I could not cry.
This morning, during the last songs at church, I experienced a wave of grief and sadness I just couldn’t hold back. One of my friends came to comfort me and understood what was causing it, that I had been devastated by some recent events. The release was hard to describe, but I felt a degree of relief that it had finally happened, the events themselves notwithstanding.
Here is Psalm 30.
A Psalm of David. A song at the dedication of the temple.
I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up
and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favour is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
As for me, I said in my prosperity,
“I shall never be moved.”
By your favor, O Lord,
you made my mountain stand strong;
you hid your face;
I was dismayed.
To you, O Lord, I cry,
and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!
O Lord, be my helper!”
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
David wrote this Psalm for the temple’s dedication, but the temple would not be completed until several years after his death. He trusted God that it would be built, so he turned to a situation in his past where he felt far from God, and recalled that He turned the situation around and turned his wailing to dancing. By appealing to God’s past help, he knew he could trust God to see his plans through, and it’s this that is giving me great comfort today.