“For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor, a lifetime. Weeping may spend the night, but there is joy in the morning. (Psalm 30:5, HCSB)”
The older you get, the more times you experience moments like these. Getting a heartbreaking phone call. The flood of tears. Walking through the corridors of a hospital. And then there’s that moment when you see your loved one, lying in that hospital bed, not looking quite the same. Sometimes only machines are keeping them alive. They are alive in the most basic sense of the word, and yet they are really dead.
I arrived to the hospital too late for my grandmother – she had already stopped breathing when I walked into the room. Her face was changed. The lifelessness was immediately evident somehow. As soon as I recognized it, the flood came again.
Today, for my uncle, we arrived while he was still on the respirator. He still had reflexes – he moved his legs when the doctor tickled his feet. But the doctor was clear about the fact that what happened to his brain was a catastrophic event from which he would never recover.
My other uncle mentioned to the doctor that our only hope was a miracle, to which she replied, “Not even a miracle could save him at this point.” (I don’t think she’s too clear on the meaning of the word miracle.)
I watched my mother approach his bedside, stroke the hair back from his forehead, and gaze at him with deep sadness. In my eyes, it was a silent attempt to accept his loss, to say goodbye to the brother that always remembered her across any distance, always called, and never failed to send her birthday and Christmas cards, year after year.
There is no easy way to say goodbye. Often we get so caught up in the daily routines of life that we can forget the fleeting nature of our lives. The death of someone close shakes us back to reality and reminds us of our mortality. We remember that God has said that our lives are like a vapor that disappears into the wind.
A voice says, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:6-8, NASB)
It hurts. But I praise God for the hope of the Second Coming of Jesus. He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Psalm 30:5 says that weeping spends the night, but there is joy in the morning. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit which He gives as a gift to those who love Him and keep His commandments. To me, this verse means that God is assuring us that our suffering is only temporary. Suffering itself will pass away; it will die an eternal death. Jesus gives us inexpressible, inexplicable, unfathomable joy here and now, and then on that glorious morning, we will live with Him forever in that joy.
Weeping may spend the night, but joy awaits us when the morning light of the Son of God shines upon us.
Come, Lord Jesus. Let us see the light of Your return break this night into eternal day.
photo by [ henning ] accessed via flickr