Weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
It's a verse that promises hope and comfort. For generations, believers have been strengthened by the certainty of that coming joy. In just a few simple words, we are reminded that weeping does not last forever and that the next part of the story will be better than the part we're living right now.
At the same time, the verse presents us with a few difficult questions.
How long will this night last?
Where am I in this night: is this the beginning of the night or is this near the end?
And is there any guarantee that I will even make it to the morning?
Those are some serious questions!
And while the Bible is utterly committed to the certainty of a coming hope, it is just as committed to telling the truth about the pain of the suffering that precedes the promised joy of the morning. In fact, the Bible is brutally honest about both parts of the story. Both grief and joy are major players in this life.
What's more, grief and joy don't always show up in the same order. Sometimes (as we see in Psalm 30:5) the joy follows the grief. At other times, joy gives way to grief.
While it seems that the normal pattern is grief giving way to joy, verses like Proverbs 14:13 teach us that sometimes laughter leads to heartbreak. Life doesn't always flow in the same direction. It's back and forth, up and down. Sometimes it seems like we're headed for a season of joy . . . and we end up in a time of grief. At other times, it feels like we're at the bottom . . . only to be suddenly surprised by joy.
And then sometimes . . . the joy and the grief are all jumbled up together.
Actually, that's how life feels to me right now: all jumbled up. Every moment, it seems, is the right moment for both grief and joy.
It dawns on me that if I am not grieving and lamenting these days, then I am not paying attention to what is happening in our world.
And even while I grieve, there are plenty of reasons all around to find joy.
Ultimately, of course, joy wins out. We can be quite sure that eventually there will come a time when God will wipe every tear from our eyes, a time when there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4).
But that day is not today.
For today, we wonder how long this night will last.
For today, we wonder if the morning will ever arrive.
For today, we awkwardly juggle the weeping and the joy . . . while we wait for another day.