Recently I have been teaching on rest. In the Psalms we can find wonderful admonitions to rest in God alone in Psalm 23 and 62. It is hard for us to do this except with God’s help. We need to rest from life’s trials. In life we will be hurt, yet God brings healing to us. His promises of healing are dramatic and wonderful.
In Psalms we read in Ps 103 that God forgives all our sins and heals all of our diseases. I have written earlier about God’s miraculous healing on my body from a near fatal bout with tick borne diseases. God also speaks of healing in Psalm 30. Yet it seems in this psalm the healing deals with more than physical, but perhaps healing of the soul. “I will exalt you O Lord, for he lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O Lord, you brought me up from the grave, you spared me from going down into the pit.” (v.1-3). The depths are an expression of a universal human experience. Out of the muck and mire, darkness and pain of life, emotional and spiritual as well as physical. The psalmist is even speaking of the grave or death. God does not want us to live in darkness, but in His light. For in Him there is no darkness but the light of life.
Clearly we all experience deep darkness often in grief from loss. We are continually losing things and friends in life. Grief and mourning are difficult and even despairing at times. Yet, grieving is a process with stages that can lead us through pain and anger to bargaining, and to reinvestment in life. This is a slow and individual process that must be lived out. Yet, “his favor lasts a lifetime weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (v.5). When in grief it seems like this will never happen. I recall while facilitating a grief group called GriefShare, we encountered people angry with the thought that rejoicing or joy could even be used in the same sentence as weeping or grieving. In fact the logo of the group was, “From mourning to joy.” This is a theme in scripture of how God will work in our lives if we let him. This thought is perhaps no more stark than in James 1:2-4 where he says, “Consider it pure joy when you come into trials of diverse kinds, for the testing of your faith develops perseverance, which must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” This is hard teaching and during grief it is at best dissonant.
Back to Psalm 30:11, “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart might sing to you and not be silent.” What! You might say. He ends with. “O, Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.” God is faithful to lead us through the trial or grief. He will minister to our broken hearts and bring us healing. It is the healing of our souls, broken or cracked in our loss. Our foundations are shaky, but God’s anchor holds.
The Prophet Isaiah brings the healing theme home as well. God will bring the Israelites out of Egypt or Babylon, their exile. This exile of mourning of life and land lost. “When they cry out to the Lord because of their oppressors, he will send a savior and defender and he will rescue them. The Lord will strike Egypt with a plague, he will strike them and heal them. They will turn to the Lord, and he will respond to their pleas and heal them.” (v.19:21-22). Then later in Isaiah 61 we read of the ministry of Christ Jesus, “He sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crow of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Jesus Himself spoke these words in Luke 4 in the temple as the scroll was handed to Him. Jesus is still healing us in body, mind and spirit, that our lives may be fully devoted to him.