8 | Morning Joy
Today we are reminded of the wonderful truth that, purely due to God's compassionate and merciful character, "Joy will come, because God's favour lasts a lifetime." What a way to start your morning, choose to celebrate this today!
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favour lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning. - Psalm 30:5
I wonder how you woke up this morning. Well, not how, but in what way. Likewise, in what way did you fall asleep? David has both experienced long nights of crying himself to sleep, and the joy that comes as he awakes to a morning. This psalm speaks of anger and favour; of weeping and rejoicing, as a man who has known both the depths of suffering and the heights of joy. The first two are characteristics of God, and the second two: our human responses. But are these two equal? ‘God gets angry?’ you may ask. ‘I thought you said he was all-Loving?’
David spells it out clearly in Psalm 30:5:
God’s anger lasts but a moment: his anger is momentary, fleeting. Whereas, God’s favour (his faithfulness, love, kindness, mercy, goodness) last a lifetime.
In terms of His character, while God gets angry, He is love. It is never, ever the other way around. God is defined by His faithfulness:
In Exodus 34:4-7, we essentially have God’s Instagram bio, a few lines which comprehensively sum up his character: ‘Yahweh, Yahweh, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…’ and it goes on.
If we place these apparent parallels on a weighing scale, it would never balance. On the one side, is his anger, far lighter, more singular, less common. Moreover, his anger is not like ours: God is slow to anger, he is patient and long-suffering. And on the other side of the scale is God’s favour.
In the Greek, the literal translation of this passage would be: For a moment in his anger. Lives in his favour.
This is the part where the scale in this analogy would break. God’s favour far, far outweighs his anger. Immeasurably so. Not only does his favour last a lifetime, but (get this) in his favour there is Life! Or even more literally, lives plural: there is life to the full now, and there is life eternal forever.
The literal Greek for the next verse is ‘In the evening weeping may lodge: but in the morning exultation.’ Weeping is personified as but a passing traveller, who lodges, and is gone by morning. When ‘Exultation!’, the new guests, flood the room, there is no room for weeping at the inn, the rooms are booked out for Joy.
Joy will come, because God’s favour lasts a lifetime.
How are we to respond then, in seasons of winter, and weeping, and on the nights so dark it seems morning will never come?
Like Paul, who in his weeping remembered, that ‘this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…’ (2 Corinthians 4:17)
And like Jesus, who even when experiencing the weight of God’s anger for our sin, knew His Father’s character would not forsake him, but would faithfully bring him from death to life, and from mourning to rejoicing.
His anger is distant. But his compassion is close by.
For it is in remembering these constants: God’s baseline character, his continued favour and his daily new mercies, that we can endure the transient/present.
Just as the Light was and is prophesied, God is faithful to his promises: just as the morning arises after the night, so God will shed new light, new joy and new faith on your path as you continue to turn your face, each morning to Him.
Abi is back in Durham, doing her final year of Italian and Arabic after having spent her year abroad in Italy, Jordan and Morocco. Her favourite pastimes are trying out new vegetarian recipes, going on adventures, and taking photos of them; ideally combining all three. She is passionate about interfaith dialogue, and bridging misunderstandings between cultures through relationships, and hopes to pursue this calling with a Masters in Peace, Reconciliation and Conflict Resolution next year.