Earlier this year, I was running beside the Water of Leith. I had in mind the opening of Psalm 137 (ok, it was actually Rivers of Babylon by Boney M… ), and I was imagining some people openly weeping with some harps hung in the nearby trees. The rest of that Psalm is worth discussing another time, but I had a few thoughts before some Christmas encouragement.
I wondered if maybe I would tell this imaginary criers not to cry any more because there is no temple any more and they are free to worship the Lord wherever they want, but then that there might be good in crying.
David says (Psalm 30):
You turned my wailing into dancing;
You took my sackcloth and you clothed me
with garments of joy
Let my glory sing to you Lord;
sing and not be silent.
Thanks be to the Lord!
He knows that God has helped him in the past when he was in grief, and uses this to praise God in whatever his current distress is.
Likewise, The Sons of Korah say (Psalm 42):
Why are you downcast, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
Most strikingly, an unknown Psalmist says (Psalm 126):
Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
bearing seeds for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
The diligent gospel worker will keep going through their current distress and there will be rewards.
The Lord himself wept bitterly at Lazarus’ graveside before he raised him. Even though he could bring his friend back, the reign of death in the world as a result of sin cut him to pieces. No one would comfort him, instead saying “See how he loved him!”.
The reason I am bringing all this up is that I have seen much joy in Chalmers this year. We have our building now, in a great location (not just because I can walk), people have become Christians, people have got married and had babies, and the youngsters are a constant encouragement.
Yet, I see people hurting from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that befall us in this fallen world. While we wait on the sure and certain hope outlined in the Psalms above, it’s ok to lament as individuals, but also to weep with those who weep. I have seen much of this in Chalmers this year (you see a lot from the video desk!), be it with someone providing a literal shoulder to cry on, or even a simple touch on the arm and a smile to say “I’m here”. These are important things and a sign of a healthy church, and I really want to encourage you on that.
Isaiah 40 promised an end to Israel’s mourning after its exile with the coming Messiah, and while we still cry, we rejoice in the certain hope of a future with God.
Have a great Christmas.