For Kirwan Uniting Church's Keep in Touch, 5 May 2019
It’s a hard life for us ministry agents and Presbytery reps, having to spend a weekend at Mission Beach Resort 😊 Presbytery Meeting went well, no controversy, lovely worship, especially on Saturday morning when Aitkenvale’s Graham Huth led and presided, and Garry Hardingham preached. We had an impromptu concert on Saturday evening. Kathy Reid can tell you about the stand-up comedian. You wouldn’t want him as your pastor, dreadful jokes.
Having fun, being joyful, is part of the Christian life. “In your presence is fullness of joy” (Ps 16). The trouble is, we can think that it’s their own fault when people don’t see fun in situations. “Where’s your joy of the Lord?” we ask. Well, I do, until I catch myself acknowledging that I jolly well wouldn’t be joyful if I were undergoing their circumstances.
Just as God blesses and validates fun and laughter, so he sanctifies tears and despair. Just as I, to my shame, sometimes shun folk who I say are “no fun”, so God is near to those who are weeping, he keeps watch over them. It is the nature of tears that they obscure our comforting God. Again and again in scripture, God responds to the despairing: When Hagar lifted up her voice in the wilderness of Beersheba, God drew near (Gen 21:17). When Hannah wept bitterly outside the temple of the Lord, God noticed and remembered (1 Sam 1:10, 17). When David became weary with moaning, God didn’t become weary with listening (Ps 6:6-9).
He gathers up all your tears and puts them in his bottle (Ps 56:8). As God says to King Hezekiah, so he could say to each of his children, “I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears” (2 Kings 20:5).
The glorious consummation of our faith is described in Revelation 24: He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away”. Until then, we have to walk alongside our weeping sisters and brothers, because that’s where our Saviour is walking.