Turning Corners

5His anger lasts just a moment,
In his favor is life.
In the evening there is weeping,
but joy comes by morning. — Psalm 30:5

I was reminded of this text early this morning when I got out of bed feeling refreshed and ready to go. Yesterday I was tired out and really rather annoyed. Some substantial things had gone wrong with a couple of our web sites. The web host restored databases for two of my blogs from two week old material. I do have backups, and I will be able to restore the missing two weeks, but it annoyed me. It was also far from weeping—it was just intensely inconvenient. But still I noticed the difference a night of sleep made. I’m ready to go again.

At my graduation from college, longer ago than I feel like mentioning, we broke with tradition by inviting one of our own professors to speak. Dr. Alden Thompson, a professor of Biblical Studies, talked about “riding the pendulum.” He said that various things in the church swing back and forth, and you have to be able to work with it. The pendulum keeps swinging. It doesn’t stay where it is.

Many of us become pretty tense about these swings of attitude within the church, but one thing we can be certain with a group of people—they will change yet again, even if they try to prevent it, and even if they pretend it’s not happening.

But our speaker made another point. The further up the pendulum you go, the less the swing. In the Christian life, the closer you get to God, the more time you spend in his presence, the less you get waved around. If you hand onto the very bottom of the pendulum you may be violently shaken. So climb up.

And in fact, the psalmist in our text today is talking about much the same thing. Quoting just verse five, the emphasis is on how quickly things can change. But the overall emphasis of the Psalm is on how close you stick with God and how much your day to day happiness is dependent on him.

When things are going badly, even if it’s just a bad day at work, we tend to get stuck in the moment and to forget that “joy comes by morning.” We feel like we’re stuck in the problem we have forever and ever, and that nothing is ever going to change it. If we keep thinking just about the current situation, that can get very discouraging. A small situation, perhaps extremely inconvenient, but not life and livelihood threatening, becomes a major issue.

That’s the time to put your focus on God and remember that these things all pass, and something better can be just around the corner. Of course, don’t forget the physical rest as well. When you’re very tired, it’s often hard to think around the next corner.

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