I’ll be the first to admit that life is more than just a dichotomy. It’s a trichotomy, it’s cyclical it’s____. There are so many facets that make up life just like there is a multitude of cells that make up the human body and seemingly endless granules that make up the sand on the seashore. I’m by no means an expert on quantum physics, but I know enough to understand that there’s so much more to what we see and there’s so much beyond our reality.
Today, I want to focus in on “two things that are represented as being opposed or entirely different” - the dichotomy of mourning and rejoicing. Ecclesiastes explores several of life’s dichotomies stating that “to everything, there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. There is…
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance.
This past month has been one for the books. Friends in the hospital fighting for their lives, firefighters battling to save homes, smoke-filled skies, threats of evacuation, the repercussions of a global pandemic, and urgent prayer requests building up on all sides. Some of the very things that I was praying for didn’t end in rejoicing as I hoped, but rather in mourning.
During the same month, friends came to visit, dreams were accelerated and things that were once on the back burner were finally accomplished! A few weeks ago, the wildfire that continues to rage in the backcountry 10 miles away from my mountain town was expected to penetrate our borders. A mandatory evacuation was considered not too far off, and even a man that spent his career analyzing fires decided to pack his bag for the very first time. The vast majority of people in town were prepared, and some began to leave.
The afternoon I was preparing to drive away I was reminded of something that my client said earlier that week. For over 7 years I have worked with people that have autism and other cognitive disabilities. Per routine, this individual and I check the weather, one of the highlights of our session. Prior to reading the forecast, my client spoke up with confidence,
“it’s going to rain, and when it rains the smoke is going to go away and the stars will come out.”
Surrounded by a billow of smoke, watching as ash fell from the sky, and with the slightest chance of precipitation, I couldn’t help but hope that this projection would become our reality.
I called up a person I consider a grandfather in the faith and we began to pray. We prayed for protection over the town, that God would send rain, and that the flames would not jump the granite that barricaded our perimeters during past fires. Shortly after I hung up the phone, a friend came over and the two of us began to worship God, imploring, “let it rain, let it rain, open the floodgates of heaven”. Close to an hour later I got word that it was sprinkling. I went outside and fell to my knees in gratitude. A sprinkle was definitely a start, but I asked God for more. Soon after I was inside and began to hear the sound of rain on my roof. It continued to rain on and off over the next 24 hours and it was nothing short of a miracle. Not only did it rain, but the winds didn’t pick up as expected and the local fire station reported that “due to an unexpected change in the weather” the fire held position.
The dichotomy? The week prior my aunt lost her family cabin that was built in the 1940's by her father and grandfather to the same wildfire. We were praying that the cabin would be spared from the flames and many of you joined us as we contended for a miracle, but instead, there were tears. It’s so easy to lose hope when the result of our prayers doesn’t align with our expectations. A loss that could have been seeped in failure, stalling my faith in the future failed to rob me of my hope for the present.
This month has brought tears, and it’s brought laughter. There has been mourning and there has been dancing. Sometimes it’s our role to mourn with those who mourn, and at other times it’s our opportunity to rejoice with those who rejoice. In the midst of pain, it can be really difficult to rejoice, and when you’re doing a victory dance it takes humility to bow a knee and comfort someone in their mourning.
Life is full of dichotomies.
I can’t say that I fully understand the complexity of it all, but I know the One who endured it all, and that is where my confidence rests. By the way, my client was right. There were a handful of days that smoke subsided and the night it rained, the stars came out and in unison, they did a victory dance. I just may have done one too.