This week's Thought is written by Pauline Anderson.
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. (Psalm 137:1)
In 597 BC, and in subsequent years, the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah were deported to Babylonia, where they remained until after the Fall of Babylon in 539 BC.
In Psalm 137, we meet the Jews as they are living beside the two great rivers, Tigris and Euphrates, mourning over their exile. They are longing and yearning for a past life, stolen from them because of sin and rebellion. There is a sense of loss of location but also, a loss of vocation.
In another book in the Bible, we read of a man called Daniel, one of those taken from his homeland at this time by the Babylonians and pressed into service for the king. Daniel would have been around 17 years of age when he was carried away from his beloved homeland to serve a pagan king. We can be almost sure that Daniel would have the same longings and yearnings for his homeland as his fellow Jews, however, he expressed himself quite differently. He understood the verse in Ecclesiastes 3:1,4:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heaven... a time to mourn and a time to dance.
Daniel understood that, without compromising his faith in God, he could serve this new king he had been called to serve. It was not that it was wrong to mourn, but, for Daniel, he would not allow his mourning to swallow up his ministry. There was ‘a time to mourn’; this just wasn’t it.
In his book ‘Totally Forgiving Ourselves’, R. T Kendall refers to a period of mourning he experienced after leaving London, his home of twenty-five years, and returning to America. He recalls, “Grief set in the moment we arrived (in America). I had given up a great church, great friends, the challenge to prepare fresh sermons, and last, but not least, London... We found it difficult to watch news reports from London, especially when they showed scenes of Big Ben, Buckingham Palace or those around piccadilly Circus.” However, despite the sense of sadness and loss, RT Kendall continued his work as an author and guest speaker at Christian conferences. He appeared on Christian TV programmes and regularly contributed to Christian publications. Like Daniel, ministry was more powerful than mourning.
It’s not wrong to mourn. We are even reminded that there is ‘a time to mourn’, but we must be careful that we do not immerse ourselves in mourning so deeply that we miss the opportunity to minister to others in the way God has called us to.
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