“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” Psalm 30:5. A universal appeal of the psalms is its ability to connect to our hearts. After a near-fatal struggle in which David found his soul in Sheol as he wept through the night, he finds that God is faithful and brings joy in the morning. So many of us have been there, having endured a sleepless night while our world crashes down around us. But, God is always faithful and the only solid thing we can cling to in those darkest times. He does bring us joy when this season, whether one sleepless night or years of them, of our lives is done. So, it’s no wonder, then, that songs have been written from this psalm that speak to various generations. Almost thirty years ago, the Gaithers sang “Joy Comes in the Morning,” and on the radio now Tauren Wells has a song, “Joy in the Morning.” In the first, we’re told, “Hold on, my child, Joy comes in the morning, The darkest hour means dawn is just in sight,” while the second says, “There will be joy in the morning, Giving in to your feelings is like drowning in the shadows, Oh you gotta keep believing.” Do you have joy?
“For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” 1 Corinthians 4:15. Though a segment of our culture may argue that fathers are not necessary for the well-being of a child’s development, many studies reveal the opposite to be true, and though we stand in awe of those moms who are doing an incredible job raising kids without a positive male figure in the home, there’s still an element missing. I know this in reverse as our kids’ mother passed away just as they were coming into young adulthood. How about for a church? I see a big difference between the small mission-church where I ministered for twenty-three years and most are first-generation Christians and the larger church that will soon celebrate its centennial. In the first case, there’s so much denominational thinking to work through and not enough “fathers” in the faith who would teach and set an exam-ple for Christian living as well as guide. They manage well by sticking close to Scripture, but it comes hard and there’s always that element missing. What could a church that’s had many “fathers” do with this blessing?
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11. It takes childlike faith to be-lieve that if we ask we will receive, seek and we will find, and knock and the door will open—all by a Father who loves us. And that is what we see in the simple hymn, “Father, We Thank Thee.” Quoted in the 1882 book, “The Story of Patsy,” by the same author of “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm,” the simple lyrics, later put to music by the widower Daniel J. Batchellor, were written by Rebecca (same one???) Weston for her kindergarten students in Boston: “Father, we thank Thee for the night, And for the pleasant morning light, For rest and food and loving care, And all that makes the day so fair. Help us to do the things we should, To be to others kind and good, In all we do, in work and play, To grow more loving ev’ry day.” What a great reminder this is even for adults that God has given us all good things and looks to give all His children good gifts. As Jesus reminds us: “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 18:3.
“And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, ‘If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD’s …’” Judges 11:30-31. Much speculation has been given to whether or not would have given his daughter as a human sacrifice—and how would God have been pleased with such a burnt offering? Or did she remain ever a virgin instead? All this takes the focus off the terrible state of God’s leader seeking to make a deal with God—like someone with little faith might try to manipulate Him! God is not like the genie in Disney’s Aladdin, who could be tricked into giving more wishes. Nor is He a senile grandfather who’s forgotten that He’s already given his grandkids dollar bills. Rather, submitting to the sovereign and omnipotent Creator, we trust that there’s nothing He needs from us (Acts 17:24-27), and yet He is good and works for our good. We must not be like kids vowing to care for a puppy with promises they will never keep if only their father will buy it for them, but rather know that our heavenly Father knows best and will answer us with whatever is best for us.
“Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress” Judges 10:14. Refusing to cry out to God for deliverance, His people turned to Abimelech as a type of worldly insurance policy to keep other nations from oppressing them. After they’d destroyed themselves from within, there was still no mention of His people admitting their sin and seeking salvation from God for another 68 years. Our longsuffering and long-forsaken God rightly told them to turn to the Baals they had been serving. What if God said that to us? What if the people He had bought with His blood were to recognize that the dis-tress they had been suffering was due to compromising with the culture around us? What if the Abimelech we had put over us was to blend in with the world to keep from being persecuted by it? What if God’s answer to us was to let the gods whom we have chosen save us? His people of old bore the fruit of repentance first. Putting away their foreign gods, they “served the LORD.” This is our way forward as well. As dug in as God seemed to be, He “became impatient over the misery of Israel” and raised a savior up. Will whom you serve save you?