God created us as complex creatures, capable of feeling and sensing a whole garden of emotions. Made in the image of our Creator, we can both grieve the wrongs of this world, and celebrate the sweetness of this life.
This 2-week reading plan will lead us through a series of passages from Scripture that examine the seasons of mourning and dancing in the life of a believer. In the written responses here on the site, our writers will enter into this tension, articulating their personal experiences with grief and joy in hopes of freeing you to explore your own. By immersing our hearts and minds in God’s Word, and honestly presenting our laments to Him, may we remember that God is present with us, He is good, and He is faithful.
Mortality Scriptures—Psalm 103:15-16, Psalm 90:12-17, 1 Corinthians 15:26
Life Scriptures—Psalm 139:1-24, John 15:9-11, Revelation 21:4-5
While our days sometimes feel long, life itself is indeed short. Though I don’t often live like I believe it, I am indeed mortal.
The Bible is quick to remind us of just how short life really is, that our days are numbered and our lives will fade like grass blown away by the wind (Psalm 90:12; 103:15-16). But Scripture is also quick to remind us of the richness and beauty of life here on earth. Psalm 139 tells us of a loving God who is intimately involved with our creation and our lives:
Lord, You have searched me and known me…You are aware of all my ways… For it was You who created my inward parts… I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
-vv. 1, 3, 13-14
Creation and death. Each is as real and imminent as the other. Both ordained by God. It can be strange living in that tension, can’t it—living with the knowledge of our own mortality?
This past Christmas was my niece’s very first. She is the first grandchild in our family, so this was exciting for all of us—especially my mom, who has quickly become the epitome of a doting grandmother. But this Christmas also marked another first for us: the first Christmas without our Mimi, my mom’s mother.
I remember Christmas morning sitting in the living room celebrating and chatting and eating my second (okay, maybe third) cinnamon roll, when my mom walked in and quieted the room. She asked if we could take a minute to remember Mimi and thank God for her life. In that moment, my mom showed us what it looks like to live in the tension of life and death, what it looks like to celebrate and mourn simultaneously.
We celebrated my niece’s first Christmas. We mourned the first Christmas without our Mimi.
Sometimes life offers us seasons of mourning. Sometimes life offers us seasons of dancing. And sometimes, perhaps more often, life offers us both. This Christmas I learned that mourning and dancing are not mutually exclusive actions. We can experience deep joy and deep sadness at the very same time.
There is something beautiful about that reality, especially in light of what’s to come. When sorrow will meet joy for the last time, and “God will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
Death will no longer exist.
When the reality of death is heavy, the promise of its defeat is powerful. Scripture says we have victory over death through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57), who abolished death on the cross (2 Timothy 1:10). Our Savior died so that we might live. He understands the tension of mourning and dancing more than anybody.
I like the end of Psalm 139, when David asks God to lead him in “the everlasting way”—a phrase that suggests there is more to this earthly life, more to live for than this moment. I want to be led in the everlasting way. I want to mourn, and I want to dance, cry, and laugh. And I want to do so with the knowledge that the best is yet to come.
Someday soon, all sorrow will be joy. And in the meantime, we get to experience the complex wonder that is living.