It was the end of a long, hard day. While Hanna wrapped up the evening in another room, I put Claire in her footy pajamas and took her into the living room. I set her on the floor with a couple of toys and crumpled myself against the couch a few feet away.
I was physically and emotionally drained, feeling a little helpless and insignificant in the sudden quiet. Tears were starting to fill my eyes when Claire looked up, for no apparent reason, and gave me a huge, goofy grin.
That little smile seemed to communicate so much, and the burdens of the day simply vanished.
God has purposefully woven happy and hard times together,
a reminder of his grace and hope in all things.
We talk about seasons of life the same way we talk about seasons of the year, as if there’s a clear boundary between the good times and bad. I particularly enjoy this seasonal transition, when the leaves start to change color, the air cools and every coffee shop advertises one product or another with “pumpkin spice.”
But life isn’t like that. Though our intellect tries to organize everything into a black-and-white system, blessings and hardship are always intertwined.
My duties at Hillsboro MB Church often put me behind the soundboard during memorial services. The funerals I find most poignant happen over holidays: the sharp contrast of emotional tributes given against the backdrop of a twinkling Christmas tree makes it hard to rationalize the intersecting seasons of life.
It reminds me of “Hymn of Promise,” written by composer Natalie A. Sleeth in 1986. The second verse begins, “There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody; There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.”
The hymn’s beautiful lyrics and melody invite the listener to reflect on the fact that often the weeping and dancing happen simultaneously. It may not always make sense, but the reason—as each verse ends—is “unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”
It puts a different perspective on the familar “a time for everything” Ecclesiastes 3 prologue. The author lists 14 contrasting pairs of actions—weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing, tearing and mending—that I’d always understood to be happening at separately designated moments. But each phrase is structured with “and” instead of “or.” If the author wrote, “There’s a time to weep or a time to laugh,” it would cast a distinctly different message.
But it’s a time to weep and a time to laugh. God has purposefully woven happy and hard times together, a reminder of his grace and hope in all things. Paul adds that message to his conclusion of 1 Thessalonians: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.”
In this culture of carefully curated Instagram selfies (“#blessed”), it’s hard to admit when our current season of life isn’t all sunshine and pumpkin spice lattes. Yet it’s vital to engage in hard moments, because it’s in those times I think we most clearly see the real blessings God has placed along our paths, like a baby’s grin after a tough day.
David Vogel serves as the worship director at Hillsboro (Kansas) MB Church, where he has been on staff since 2013. He and his wife, Hanna, welcomed their first child, Claire Elizabeth, in January 2017, and live in Hillsboro where David operates a graphic design studio. Vogel is passionate about using music and multimedia to create an environment of authentic and passionate worship.