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 favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
The psalmist displays a posture of worship reflecting the full spectrum of human experience – he calls God’s people to praise Him for His faithfulness and grants the freedom to cry out when our suffering seems too great to bear. He proclaims that God knows our sorrows, hears our cries and is near (Ps. 34:18). His words speak comfort from the Lord, that in our pain we have hope, the promise of joy in the end.
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 your faithfulness?
Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me!
O LORD, be my helper!
Yet sometimes in suffering, our only response is, “Why, Lord?” Another friend, parent or sibling diagnosed with cancer. Another baby lost before his parents could know the joy of the first cry of life. Another marriage that ends with a spouse alone the first night after the funeral. It’s too much to bear. The pain is too great. So we cry out, “Where are you, Lord?”
And we wait. Sometimes for a night. Sometimes for weeks. Sometimes years. We wait with darkness laid heavy like the heat of a late summer’s night. Will it ever break?
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing:
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothe 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!
But then, when the weight is at its heaviest: relief. The light of the morning dries our tear-stained cheeks, and we can see, maybe for the first time, that there is joy. We come to know that our story, with all its hurt and brokenness and grief, is part of God’s grand redemptive story. It is the story of creation, fall, redemption, consummation. The story of a people ruined by sin, of a love so great that even death could not overcome it, of a Savior who lived, who died and was raised – Jesus, who will one day come again to set all that’s wrong to right. The tension may remain, the aching still present, but in the morning, there is hope. In the morning, there is joy.